Law firm Cartmell Shepherd is targeting further growth by helping businesses and people to capitalise on investment taking place in West Cumbria.

That was the strong message from the firm’s managing director Peter Stafford delivered during the official opening of its new office on M-Sport’s Dovenby Hall estate.

Mr Stafford said the new office, its first in 30 years, was signal of its ambitions to serve the West Cumbrian business community in light of investments already in motion, such as the recently announced North Shore development in Whitehaven, and those planned for the future, particularly relating to the region’s nuclear sector.

He says: “There is a lot going on in West Cumbria at the moment. “Over the last few years there has been a real drive to ensure local business, including small family businesses, and individuals actually benefit from the investments being made by the likes of Sellafield and Britain’s Energy Coast, rather than seeing it disappear out of the county.

“Our new office is a real investment in the community and our future. We have people from West Cumbria working from the office, and that is of major importance.

“You can’t open an office locally and staff it with people from afar – you have to staff it with people are involved and come from the local community and willing to give back to it.”

Mr Stafford said the opening of the office – its fifth in Cumbria – was on a par with the creation of Cartmell Shepherd when it came to milestones for the firm. It provides legal services to business, agricultural and private clients.

“It is very significant really,” he added.

Associate solicitor Claire Wilson, who splits her time between West Cumbria and the firm’s office in Rosehill, Carlisle, said the opening had huge professional and personal meaning.

“We have a lot of clients out here so the office allows them more access to us and the support we provide,” she says.

“The investments taking place in West Cumbria is fantastic. I am born and bred in Maryport apart from going away to university, and as soon as I qualified I came back here because I couldn’t imagine living and working anywhere else.

“It is a pleasure to be part of what is going on in West Cumbria.”

Mike Little, head of commercial property, described the West Cumbria presence as “absolutely crucial”.

“It is important for us to be here. It is quite easy to get across the message that what we offer can compete with bigger firms from outside the county. We can relate to them one-to- one.

“We also get that message across to businesses through networks such as Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, but we have got to prove to them that we have got the expertise and that they don’t need to go to Manchester, Newcastle or Leeds to get the expertise we have got.

“We have got Cumbrians serving Cumbrians, with that knowledge.”

Cartmell Shepherd now has six offices, with two in Carlisle, and others in Brampton, Penrith and Haltwhistle.

It employs 100 people, led by seven directors, and recently announced it was offering full-time positions to three former trainees.