Mergers, acquisitions and new firms abound in autumn rush

Enoch Evans deal: Joanne Hartshorne (l) and Nic Dowding (r), partners from GID, with Enoch Evans managing partner David Evans

There has been a slew of mergers announced in recent days across the country, as usually happens at this time of the year when most firms still renew their professional indemnity insurance.

In the City of London, Rosling King has boosted its dispute resolution offering by merging with Lax & Co, which specialises in shipping and international trade disputes.

It adds six lawyers to the ranks of Rosling King, which has 60. The combined practice will operate as RK.

Georgina Squire, senior partner and head of litigation at RK, said: “We were impressed with Lax & Co’s shipping work – a new sector for us – and also with their international trade and arbitration capability, all of which now enhance the scope of services RK offers.”

In Kent, Ashford firm Hallett & Co has taken over FordLittle in Sittingbourne. Giles Ford will become a partner in the merged form and continue to run the Sittingbourne office.

Hallett senior partner Mark Dewey said: “Giles and I first met at university and have remained close friends since then. We have worked together over the years on various projects and Giles and his firm share our client-orientated approach to delivering tailored, high-quality legal advice.”

The merged firm is made up of 11 partners and 60 staff.

Huddersfield-based Ridley & Hall has continued to expand across Yorkshire by buying Barnsley firm Newman & Bond, which handles property, family and private client work.

The 15-strong team takes Ridley’s headcount to 100 across four offices, with Jane Munden and Jill Leece joining as partners.

Ridley & Hall said it had recovered from Covid and saw turnover increase to over £3m in 2020/2021.

Managing director Emma Pearmaine added: “This latest acquisition continues our strategy of joining forces with like-minded firms in other parts of the region who share our focus on providing outstanding and affordable legal advice.”

Redkite Solicitors, an acquisitive group with operations in Wales and the South West of England, has acquired David & Snape, which has 30 staff in offices in Bridgend and Porthcawl.

Redkite is headquartered in Carmarthen and now has 14 offices and 180 staff. It has doubled turnover to more than £9m since 2017 and is on course to achieve a turnover in excess of £10.5m as a result of the deal.

Neil Walker, chief executive of Redkite, said: “As a law firm rooted in the local communities it serves, David & Snape is the perfect fit for us as we expand our footprint across Wales and beyond. It fits perfectly with our strategy of providing the best quality legal advice from high street locations.”

Enoch Evans, the largest law firm in Walsall, has taken over Cannock-based Gardner Iliff & Dowding. It is only the second time Enoch Evans has expanded outside Walsall, after opening an office in Sutton Coldfield in 2018. It has more than 90 members of staff.

Managing partner David Evans said: “The acquisition of GID proves that Enoch Evans is not standing still; we are growing and developing whilst still retaining our long-standing family values while clients will benefit from a firm offering a full spectrum of services for the first time.”

In Manchester, Slater Heelis has acquired specialist ecclesiastical law firm Towns Needham, which has eight staff.

Chris Bishop, managing partner at Slater Heelis – which has 160 staff – said: “The highly specialist work the team conducts in the faith world closely complements our own range of services, and forms a key part of our plans for growth.

“But most importantly of all, the cultural fit is just right. Faith groups play a major role in many people’s lives, and protecting and supporting our community of clients at every stage of their lives is very much our ethos.

“We have long experience of working with charities and the third sector, but the specific expertise of our new team within different religious denominations gives us a unique strength in depth for our new faith and charities team.”

Stoke firm Beswicks Legal has expanded into the North-West with the acquisition of Maddocks Clarke in Altrincham, which provides conveyancing, family and private client services.

Beswicks employs 50 people, while Maddocks Clarke has an eight-strong team and said it was “actively recruiting”.

The Switalskis group has created a residential property team in Sheffield after hiring 11 people from what was Keebles in Sheffield, recently acquired itself by listed law firm Knights.

Former Knights partner and head of residential property, Bonita Wolfenden, joins Switalskis as a director to lead the team.

She said: “I am passionate about the Sheffield business community, and I’ve built strong connections with clients, agents and developers across the city in the years I’ve worked here.”

Meanwhile, Quillon Law, a specialist commercial disputes-only practice, has opened in London. It is founded by a trio of City litigators, Michael Barnett, Mark Hastings and Mark Gill.

Mr Barnett was, until recently, global head of litigation at Addleshaw Goddard, and Mr Gill a previous lead partner in the same firm’s financial markets litigation.

Mr Hastings, formerly a partner at Grosvenor Law and Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, worked for over a decade with both the pair at Addleshaw Goddard, where he was head of civil fraud.

Meanwhile, First4InjuryClaims, the new alternative business structure (ABS) created by marketing collective First4Lawyers, launched last week following approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Plans for the firm – which will only handle road traffic accident (RTA) claims – were announced in February ahead of the whiplash reforms that came into force on 31 May.

First4Lawyers said that the hugely reduced levels of compensation available to RTA claimants with injuries worth up to £5,000 meant the margins are too small for law firms to do the work unless they could handle large volumes. It set up the law firm so that it could still offer a solution to customers.

It has been on a recruitment drive ahead of launch, bringing in Andrew Wild from WNS Legal Assistance as head of legal practice, as well as seven other fee-earners and claims handlers.

Qamar Anwar, First4Lawyers’ managing director, said: “This new firm responds to that consumer need while also allowing us to be in the best position possible to support our panel firms who have had to adapt their business strategies to move away from RTA work.”

Away from solicitors, Cornwall Street Barristers, which has offices in Birmingham and Oxford, and Maidstone Chambers, based in Kent, have merged under the name Cornwall Street South.

The 17 members based in Oxford and Maidstone will form the new venture – handling a mix of family, crime and civil work – supported by those based in Birmingham.

Trevor Wright, acting head of Maidstone Chambers, said: “Our members will now be able to access an improved infrastructure which will in turn enable us to further strengthen our presence on the South Eastern Circuit and deliver greater exposure to more and different types of work both in the Midlands and in the central courts.”

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