Eversheds has followed Herbert Smith’s lead to become the second major UK firm to launch a dedicated in-house advocacy service with the hire of a barrister from Fountain Court Chambers.

Tom Keith, a commercial practitioner who is Fountain Court’s most senior junior, joins Eversheds on 2 October to head the new service.

Eversheds’ litigation head John Heaps said: “There’s a changing dispute resolution landscape at the moment and I’m finding, along with many of my colleagues, that clients are changing their views about the way we now handle disputes, and we’ve got to be very responsive to that.

“We believe clients these days need to have the choice of an integrated service to access trial advocacy.”

Keith will be responsible for driving the set’s advocacy strategy and training the firm’s solicitors in advocacy skills, as well as advising clients in and out of court.

Keith said: “This move is one step in a general move towards a less divided profession.”

Fountain Court co-head of chambers Michael Brindle QC said he hoped the move would strengthen the relationship between Eversheds and the set.