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Cambridge-based firm Hewitson Becke + Shaw is set to merge with Oxford firm Linnells to create the first law firm to have a presence in both cities.
`The merger will create a 65-partner firm which will be called Hewitson Linnells.`According to Hewitsons managing partner Alan Brett there are a number of advantages in having offices in both Oxford and Cambridge. "The Oxford-Cambridge corridor is seen as a threat to Silicon Valley and having that sort of profile is critical for development in the corporate and technology sector," he said.`The link-up between the two cities will allow the emerging technology streams in Oxford to benefit from the high-tech expertise in Cambridge. The new firm will also be able to compete with US technology firm Brobeck Hale and Dorr, which has an office in Oxford and is the only US firm with an office outside London.`Hewitsons and Linnells have their respective universities as clients and Brett said that the colleges need to work closely together to facilitate the know-how between Oxford and Cambridge. "We're in a unique opportunity to capitalise on this type of arrangement," he said.`Linnells senior partner Jonathan Lloyd-Jones admitted that his his firm's current resources have come up against a glass ceiling.`With Osborne Clarke already in Reading and Barlow Lyde & Gilbert opening in Oxford, the firm had to do something. "There are a lot of wealthy individuals in Oxford coming out of the universities and waiting to take advantage of the clustering of high-tech industries. Hewitsons is a very strong commercial practice but it also has private client and this is a good philosophy for Oxford," he said.`Hewitsons, the larger firm with 48 partners, specialises in company and commercial law with a particular focus on the high-tech sector.`Linnells, which has 17 partners, is a niche firm recognised for its work in publishing, charity law and alternative dispute resolution.`Brett said the merger will build on Hewitsons' international association Law Exchange International, which has members in high-tech centres Munich and Montpellier.`When the firms merge the role of senior partner will become defunct but Brett will stay as managing partner. There will also be an appointed management board with representatives from both sides of the merger.