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Eversheds has taken on Garretts associate Jason Austin to build up and head its IT and e-commerce practice in Manchester. Austin, who will join Eversheds as a partner, will take up the position in September this year.Eversheds national head of IT Michael Arnold said the move was intended to bolster the IT capabilities of the Manchester office, which had previously been managed in conjunction with the Leeds IT practice. Partner Rex Parry was in charge of both groups, and will remain head of IT in Leeds. Arnold said: “We’ve known for some time that we needed to build up the strength of the Manchester IT department. Historically it hasn’t been as strong as it could have been, but we’re planning to expand rapidly”.The move will put a further question mark over the future of Garretts’ Manchester office, which has been under the spotlight since the firm, the English member the Andersen Legal network, transferred its Leeds practice to national firm DLA.Austin will be the first of at least four full-time IT specialists to be brought into the Manchester office in the next 12 months. At present IT projects coming into the office are handled as an adjunct to other work, generally by the IP department. Arnold said although he was concerned by the effects of the US economic slowdown on the UK IT sector, he was confident Eversheds’ long-term strategy would stand the firm in good stead. “We’re reaping the rewards of focusing on quality work rather than chasing every dot.com that comes along”, he said.

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