As part of its expansion, North East firm Crutes has launched a team specialising in housing law. Paul Forster, a partner in the Carlisle office, will head the team of four partners and 10 support staff spread across the firm's four offices.
The idea behind the team is to marry existing strengths in housing management and property. Forster views the venture as a way of coordinating the firm's separate, but related, areas within a unified strategy. The team will serve housing associations, local authorities and private landlords, providing advice on a full range of property matters. Smaller housing associations often lack the resources to maintain an in-house capability, so Crutes runs a fixed-fee scheme to alert them to potential pitfalls. Forster said this proactive approach attracts clients. Senior partner Tim Wallis said: "The housing unit means that we're now able to provide a team of lawyers to work solely with our clients in this area. That way, we can develop close relationships with the clients."