The firm that knows no frontiers

Eversheds is proving that lawyers can be general business advisers. By Roger Trapp

The battle between lawyers and accountants has appeared so one- sided of late that it is hardly surprising that Eversheds, the national law firm, is in ebullient mood after being appointed exclusive representative in the UK and Ireland of the Berlin and Brandenburg Economic Development Corporations, after stiff competition against, it is believed, a Big Six consulting firm.

Peter Cole, Eversheds' national managing partner, is the first to agree that the appointment has little to do with law. But at a time when the large accounting firms - especially Arthur Andersen and Price Waterhouse - are making serious encroachments on solicitors' territory, he thinks it is time that firms broadened their remit.

His organisation encourages its 1,000-odd lawyers to be general business advisers rather than take a purist approach, on the grounds that it "strengthens the relationship with the client".

"Most of it is common-sense business advice that I would be expecting our lawyers to give all the time," he adds.

Mr Cole will be running Eversheds Consulting, an arm set up in response to winning the German business, but neither he nor any other member of the firm's professional staff will deal with it exclusively. Instead, there will be regional account managers, responsible for encouraging colleagues with clients thinking of expanding to put forward Berlin and Brandenburg as possible locations. In addition, Clive Vokes, a former official with the Welsh Development Agency, is coaching the management on the best sort of approach.

Eversheds believes it won the appointment on the strength of its national network of offices, its good contacts with German business and its general commercial approach. It will be involved in marketing the city of Berlin and the neighbouring state of Brandenburg to potential investors and in encouraging investment in the region. The main targets will be British companies, but American and other overseas companies that have set up in Britain as a launching pad for expansion into mainland Europe will also be looked at.

Destined to be the capital of the reunited Germany in several years' time, Berlin is expected to grow fast in the coming years. Already the largest industrial conurbation between Paris and Moscow, it will soon be linked via a high-speed railway line with Paris and Warsaw and will have an international airport with an estimated capacity of 30 million passengers.

The region could become the star of a new business for Mr Cole, and he admits that the firm will be looking to build on the experience. He adds, however, that Eversheds does not plan to take on any other appointments that put it in conflict with Berlin and Brandenburg, but he will be looking to do "similar things in other parts of the world".

The firm has already pitched for a role in redeveloping of one of the former Soviet republics. Most of the work would be purely legal, but some of it would be in consulting, says Mr Cole, adding that the large accountancy firms crossed the somewhat fuzzy line between their core practice and supplying other services some time ago.

Although Clifford Chance, the UK's largest law firm, set up an employee benefits consultancy some years ago, Mr Cole is not aware that any other firm is moving in the direction that Eversheds has taken. Nevertheless, he expects the more go-ahead firms to follow suit, if they are not already heading that way.

"The key for us was that there had to be synergy between this and the mainstream legal work," he says. As lawyers move towards advising clients on transactions, the range of assignments passing the litmus test is likely to widen.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London