Cambridge-based Hewitson Becke + Shaw is planning to open an office in Oxford, making it the first firm to have offices in both cities.
The office, which is expected to open in June, will focus on the technology and science sectors, providing advice in the areas of corporate and commercial, property, employment, intellectual property (IP), IT and competition.
According to Hewitsons managing partner Alan Brett, the firm is looking at the possibility of merging with a small Oxford firm.
Bret says that the office is also looking to expand. “We’ll be hiring a number of partners,” he says.
Both Oxford and Cambridge have a particular status in the technology and commercial sectors, which is mainly generated by projects from the universities and ventures set up by high-flying graduates.
“Oxford is in the same situation as Cambridge was in the 1980s, and there is huge potential for development in science-based work,” says Brett.
Hewitsons is keen to develop its links with North America and is exploring the possibility of referral arrangements or alliances with US firms.
Brett says that there is an affinity between the US and Oxford which he wants to cash in on. “We have the expertise to offer help to the business development process in Oxford,” he says.
Brett says that there is also a natural link-up between Oxford, Cambridge and Northampton and that the addition of an Oxford office is evidence of a coherent strategy.
However, he also says that the Saffron Walden office is not part of the picture. “Our Saffron Walden office does private client and property work, but as it stands, it doesn’t fit in with the long-term strategy of the firm. One option would be to integrate it as part of the Cambridge office,” he says.
Hewitsons, which is known for its corporate and commercial and private client practices, has 50 partners operating out of offices in Cambridge, Northampton and Saffron Walden.
It was recently announced that Hewitsons head of IP Ian Craig and fellow partner Niel Ackermann are leaving to join the London office of US firm Dorsey & Whitney.