Hammond Suddards is poaching a barrister to head a nationwide advocacy unit that the firm is launching.
Patrick Walker is leaving Leeds commercial chambers Chancery House Chambers in November to become director for advocacy at Hammonds.
He will initially be overseeing the advocacy training of between 10 and 12 lawyers.
But Peter Crossley, head of commercial dispute resolution at Hammonds, says the number of lawyers in the unit is set to increase.
Crossley says: “That number will grow significantly over time. It depends on how Patrick drives it forward.”
The initiative is expected to help the firm offer services traditionally delivered by the bar.
Crossley says: “We believe it is very important for us to offer a full dispute resolution service. That includes advocacy.”
He says the firm will continue to instruct barristers. He says: “We are not seeking to replace the bar in-house. We will still be using barristers.”
But he hints that less advocacy work will be referred to the bar. He says: “Eventually every lawyer should be able to do his or her own hearings.
“We will start the main programme when Patrick arrives. Patrick can give the trainee advocates his knowledge and experience.”