North East firm Dickinson Dees has taken on a forensic accountant from accountancy practice Deloitte & Touche.
Peter Smith is one of only a small handful of forensic accountants working in the top national law firms. He will work with Dickinson Dees' commercial litigation, insurance and white-collar crime practices.
He will provide clients with commercial advice at the outset of a dispute by identifying financial issues and strategies.
He says: "As a result of the Woolf reforms, clients are wanting commercial advice and accountancy advice early on in order to assess the strategy in taking the case forward. It may be that they decide they want to cut a deal very early on."
Smith, who has advised on a number of high-profile fraud cases, has made the move because he wants the opportunity to work with Dickinson Dees' client base, which includes most of the blue-chip companies in the North East.
He will advise the Department of Trade and Industry and a number of other listed companies in relation to director prosecutions.
Head of Dickinson Dees' commercial litigation team Guy Harvey says: "Peter's appointment will go a long way to increasing the scope of the advice we offer, enabling us to become a one-stop shop in dispute resolution.
"However, we do not expect the amount of work we send out to external accountants to be affected as we will still need independent expert evidence," he adds.
Clifford Chance appointed its first forensic accountant in January last year when Stephen Lewis joined from PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he had been for 11 years (The Lawyer, 31 January 2000).
Pinsent Curtis followed in August with Tony Chapman moving from long-term client Sarnatech BNL. (The Lawyer, 7 August 2000).