Coopers appointment fuels rumours

COOPERS & Lybrand has hired ex-Theodore Goddard partner Robin Preston to look at developing its legal capability.

However, it has denied rumours that it is in talks or has had talks with the City practice about a possible merger.

A spokesman from the accountancy firm said there was “absolutely no truth” in the merger rumours but that the speculation may have arisen as a result of Preston's appointment.

He went on to say: “His role is a management role. We are looking at increasing our legal capability and he is looking at that.”

Preston confirmed that he was brought in “to manage Cooper & Lybrand's legal function”, having retired from Theodore Goddard last May.

Coopers is the latest of the Big Six firms to review legal services. Last month The Lawyer revealed that Price Waterhouse was setting up a legal arm (6 February).

Ernst & Young has also followed suit, while Arthur Andersen was the first to go down this route.

At the time of the Price Waterhouse revelation, a Coopers spokesman said the firm had an international review of its legal strategy.

No plans had been made for the UK but “the gist is essentially that we would aim to support some of our core services with legal skills where that is appropriate”.

The spokesman said: “We might indulge in a little one-stop shopping but we are not setting up a law firm as such”.

He added: “Whatever we do will happen gradually and over a period of time.”