Leading southern law firm Bond Pearce is opening an office in Leeds to handle insurance work - its first step into the northern market.
The 56-partner firm was approached by Sumitomo Marine and Fire Insurance, one of its most significant clients, to set up its fifth office and work with it on a specific initiative.
Opening with one partner and two fee-earners, Bond Pearce hopes to use the Leeds office to offer a better service to existing clients in the north.
Managing partner Simon Richardson says: "This is very much a client-driven initiative. We have acted for Sumitomo for three or four years and they were anxious to make use of us in other parts of the world."
He says the firm has no immediate expansion plans in the region. "For the time being we will see how it goes before deciding what else to do there. We will take it slowly as a new venture, and we will concentrate initially on the work that this client has asked us to undertake," he says.
Bond Pearce has four offices in southern England. They are in Plymouth, Bristol, Exeter and Southampton. Richardson says it is still relatively early days in the Bristol office, where he envisages most of the firm's imminent growth will come from.
Bristol insurance partner Ian Martyn will move to Leeds to head the new office, which will concentrate on pre-litigation services and claims investigation.
Sumitomo's UK claims manager Mike Nicholls says: "We have worked closely with Bond Pearce in several UK regions, and this was the next logical step for both of us."