Macfarlanes is responding to the new economy boom by establishing an e-commerce group within its commercial practice.
It is the first time the firm has created a specific sector-based group. Stephen Dooley, who has joined from US firm Sidley & Austin, will head the department.
Macfarlanes has a leading reputation in private equity work. Venture capitalists have particularly benefited from the dotcom boom.
Dooley says: “The opportunity was to work with an established venture capital practice, which is exactly the field I am operating in.
“Jeremy Courtney-Stamp heads the commercial group. He does some e-commerce work but he is not dedicated. That is my role.”
Dooley joined Sidleys in 1996, and headed its e-commerce practice in Hong Kong and China. His appointment is unusual as Macfarlanes rarely makes lateral hires for senior positions.
Courtney-Stamp says the firm has been building up its e-commerce work during the past two years and it now merits a dedicated group.
The firm concentrates on established e-commerce clients such as Virgin, and only represents a handful of start-ups.
Courtney-Stamp says: “We have avoided having too many [clients] that cannot afford our fees and the like. Instead we are better on established businesses that are using the internet as a business tool.”