Eversheds has snapped up Newcastle firm Linsley & Mortimer to boost its local insurance practice.
The three-partner firm, which counts CGU and Iron Trades among its clients, began talks with Berrymans Lace Mawer in June 1999. But by September, negotiations were called off at the last minute.
According to David Weatherburn, head of insurance and health at Eversheds' Newcastle office, the firm began talking to Linsleys in February this year.
He says: "We knew the rumours that [Linsleys] was in talks with someone last year, which we subsequently discovered was Berrymans."
Weatherburn says that he expressed an informal interest in the firm after talks with Berrymans foundered and before negotiations between Eversheds and Linsleys began in earnest earlier this year.
Commenting on the reasons behind the merger, Weatherburn says: "We don't have any common clients. Bringing together the clients will give us the critical mass to grow the business.
"Also Linsleys' reputation in the market is very good."
The firm's 15 staff are in the throes of being fully integrated into Eversheds' Newcastle office over the next 10 days.
As part of the merger, Toby Scott and Alan Simpson will remain insurance partners, while senior partner Richard Chadeyron will work as a consultant at the new firm.
The merger coincides with a recent reorganisation of Eversheds' management stru-cture. Under the new structure, former Manchester and Leeds managing partner David Ansbro will take overall responsibility of the firm (The Lawyer, 8 May).
Eversheds also intends to move from partial to 100 per cent profit sharing at its national firms later this year.