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NATIONAL practice Eversheds is merging its Leeds and Manchester offices to build a cross-Pennine powerhouse.
The firm, the second-largest in the UK, will make the change on 1 June to coincide with its move to a single name.
The two offices will remain open, but under a single management structure and combined profit centre.
In the intervening months, Eversheds Hepworth & Chadwick will continue to be led by managing partner David Ansbro while John Moody will remain as head of Eversheds Alexander Tatham.
Following the change Moody will deputise for Ansbro and Leeds-based Nimble Thompson will remain as senior partner for the new office. No redundancies are planned.
Eversheds cites the growth potential of the North West and the developing market in Yorkshire and Humberside as the reasons behind the move.
National managing partner Peter Cole says the firm "will now be an even more potent force on both sides of the Pennines". It is not yet known if other offices will follow suit.
"In Eversheds the structure follows the business, not vice versa. If we continue to develop larger regional units it will be because local market conditions convince us that it makes commercial sense to do so."
Ansbro says additional factors such as the increasing overlap in the offices' catchment areas have also prompted the move. "It is essential we continue to recognise the importance of a strong Eversheds presence in both Manchester and Leeds although it is no longer realistic to talk about two separate market places either side of the Pennines."
Rival practice Dibb Lupton Broomhead says although it believes the move is "belated", it signals the "start of the right process for them".
"There is no doubt that there is some synergy in terms of the trans-Pennine practices," says partner Stuart Benson. "But it's slightly odd to put those two offices in isolation from everything else.