Halliwells is breaking into the North West’s second-largest city through a merger with Liverpool-based Cuff Roberts, it emerged last week.
The merger, first revealed on www.thelawyer.com (15 November), takes effect on 1 January 2005 and will give Halliwells a foothold in Liverpool to add to existing offices in Manchester, London and Sheffield. The combined firm, to operate as Halliwells, will have 95 partners and a turnover exceeding £50m.
Cuff Roberts has a bias towards commercial property work, although it also handles commercial litigation and has a strong private client base.
Managing partner Ian Austin wants Halliwells to be “the dominant player” in the North West. “We’re not going into Liverpool to tread water – we want to expand,” he said.
He will face stiff competition in the city, particularly from Hill Dickinson, which boasts similar revenues and offices in Liverpool, Manch-ester, London and Chester.
In January, Hill Dickinson implemented its own growth plans, merging with 14-partner property specialist Bullivant Jones.
Another Liverpool stalwart is DWF. With 32 partners in the city – half of the firm’s total partnership – DWF’s strengths are in commercial property and litigation, similar to its peers.
Jim Davies, the firm’s senior partner, welcomed Halliwells’ move, pointing out that, after all, “all the Liverpool firms felt Manchester was fair game”.
Weightmans and Brabners Chaffe Street, along with the 20-partner Liverpool office of DLA, complete the line-up of major firms in the city.
Hill Dickinson senior partner Tony Wilson said: “We welcome the challenge. The other Liverpool firms are ready to meet that challenge.”
Successful integration of the two partnerships is key, with Cuff Roberts’ family and matrimonial practice one area being “looked at”. Cuff Roberts chief executive David Rawlinson believes the firms will fit well. “We feel that we’re a lot closer than most people in the marketplace might imagine,” he said.
Brabners Chaffe Street Number of partners: 29 Number of fee-earners: 97 Key clients: Associated British Foods, Emap, Fabergé, Trinity Mirror, Wetherspoons.
Cuff Roberts Number of partners: 16 Number of fee-earners: 46 Key clients: Beetham Organisation, CRH, Johnsons Cleaners.
DLA Number of partners: 20 Number of fee-earners: 87 Key clients: David McLean Developments, Littlewoods, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool FC, Liverpool Land Development Company, Marconi, Merseyside Special Investment Fund, Virgin Retail.
DWF Number of partners: 32 Number of fee-earners: 139 Key clients: Interlink Foods, Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Airport Group, Royal & SunAlliance.
Hill Dickinson Number of partners: 72 Number of fee-earners: 278 Key clients: Liverpool City Council, Mersey Docks, Royal Liver Assurance.
Weightmans Number of partners: 28 Number of fee-earners: 127 Key clients: Greater Merseyside Police, Hoover Candy Group, Motor Insurers’ Bureau, Royal Mail.