EVERSHEDS' Cambridge office is expanding its niche areas of practice in biotechnology and intellectual property in a drive to beat its competitors.
Eversheds - one of the five largest firms operating in Cambridge - added pharmaceuticals specialist Ros Cook from Bristows to its Cambridge biosciences team of six lawyers last month.
The firm plans to expand its practice further, in line with the booming science industries which surround the university town.
Partner in charge of Eversheds' national biosciences group, Patrick Farrant, says: "We are currently looking to recruit IT and corporate finance lawyers.
"We now want to grow our business through those industries which are growing in Cambridge."
Cambridge's three leading local firms - Hewitson Becke & Shaw, Mills & Reeve and Taylor Vinters - face increasing competition following Eversheds' takeover of Palmer Wheeldon in November and the opening up of a Garretts office in 1997.
All plan to recruit solicitors from City firms and are paying higher salaries, according to a survey conducted by legal recruitment consultancy Cavendish Boyle.
Salaries for newly-qualifieds average about u25,000 and for five-year PQEs about u50,000, says Catherine French, recruitment consultant at Cavendish Boyle.
The survey states the five largest firms are recruiting lawyers who specialise in bioscience, IT and IP work to attract local business, which is largely bio-technology and science-related as a result of Cambridge University research projects.
French says: "It is a quality of life decision - solicitors still want to do quality corporate and commercial work which they are assured of in Cambridge, but they know the culture will be different."