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Eversheds plans to double the size of its Cambridge office within 12 months due to the boom in knowledge-based industries.
By April 2002, the firm expects to have 60 lawyers in Cambridge working in refurbished offices, which are due to open early next year.
Ian Shann, managing partner of Eversheds' Eastern England offices, says: "We see Cambridge as an office in which we'll be investing heavily. Cambridge is a city of growth, particularly in the knowledge-based industries, such as the life sciences sector. The bulk of its work will be intellectual property, IT and corporate and commercial finance.
"Local potential clients are largely untapped, but Cambridge had a head start over Oxford and is also hoping to link up with Norwich through a new research park next to the University of East Anglia and a new medical school."
Eversheds wants all of the Cambridge work to be dealt with locally - currently, portions of it go to London. Research conducted by Eversheds three years ago showed that half of the work generated by Cambridge is done in London.
Shann admits that there are risks associated with developing Cambridge at a time when the high-tech market is suffering. "We shouldn't be too ambitious about biotech companies, which are themselves start-ups, and some of their deals are not particularly massive. We'll be sharing some of that risk with our clients," he says.
Eversheds has already outgrown its Cambridge offices, located in the suburbs. The additional lawyers will be comprised mainly of recruits rather than transferrals, and Shann hopes that many will be former scientists who have transferred to law.
Eversheds also hopes to double the number of support staff in Cambridge, bringing the total to 90. Shann describes the bolstering of the Cambridge operation as a "national Eversheds investment".
He says that there are many potential clients. The main current ones are Cambridge Antibody Technology Group, Cambridge University spin-off research firm Babraham Institute and Catalyst Biomedica, the transfer technology arm of the Wellcome Trust.