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Eversheds' Newcastle office has hived off its private client practice to regional counterpart Hay & Kilner.
The North East base has become the latest of Eversheds' regional offices to dispense with private client work, instead favouring corporate and commercial work. Birmingham started the trend in 1997 when the trust and probate group was moved to Martineau Johnson. Two years ago, the private client group in Leeds was parcelled out to Wrigleys. The Newcastle practice looked likely to follow suit when private client head Helen Tavroges and a number of clients departed for local rivals Dickinson Dees last year. Eversheds managing partner David Ansbro said that the firm had been considering its attitude to private client work since the autumn. Eversheds' strategy is to focus its private client practice on specific offices. A number of firms expressed an interest in taking the Newcastle work, but Hay & Kilner was thought to be the best fit. Private client work accounts for about 25 per cent of that firm's revenue. Hay & Kilner's increased private client capacity will be led by current head Keith Hately and will include 10 fee-earners, three support staff and consultant and former partner John Luke, all of whom are set to transfer from Eversheds. In a move that one rival described as a "means-tested" approach to private client work, Eversheds will retain a high-net-worth individual capability. Watson Burton senior partner Andrew Hoyle was circumspect about the changes in the local market, claiming that some clients, disillusioned with the transfer of service to Hay & Kilner, had already approached his firm. Ansbro countered: "I haven't had any adverse feedback. People see the sense of it. Some of our competitors have been saying that we're pulling out of Newcastle, and that is simply not true."