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North West firm diversifies from insurance as it snaps up commercial boutique
Hill Dickinson is merging with niche Manchester commercial firm Gorna & Co in a move to decrease its dependence on the consolidating insurance litigation market. Seven-partner Gorna & Co handles mainly commercial property, but also general commercial and corporate work. Hill Dickinson's Manchester office does not currently offer a commercial property capability. Around 50 per cent of Hill Dickinson's revenue is dependent on insurance litigation, a statistic managing partner David Wareing wants to reduce. "We've been diversifying out of the consolidating insurance litigation market for the past four or five years," he said. The merger talks with Gorna & Co started in August this year. Last week, partners at both firms voted unanimously in favour of the merger. Gorna & Co equity partner Michael Blakey said: "It's fair to say that Hill Dickinson made the first move. We got together with them very quickly. I see a good fit." Hill Dickinson's turnover was £23.5m last year, with equity partners earning between £100,000 and £300,000. Gorna & Co does not disclose financial figures. Of the seven partners at Gorna & Co, four are equity partners and will be integrated into Hill Dickinson's equity structure. Blakey said: "All four of us will be equity partners at Hill Dickinson and enter the lockstep on an equal basis. We will not go in at the bottom of equity. We all expect to gain a substantial pay rise across the board." Hill Dickinson fell out of merger talks with mid-sized North West insurance firm Weightmans in May this year. But Wareing insists that Hill Dickinson's reluctance to concentrate on insurance was not the reason talks succeeded with Gorna & Co where they failed with Weightmans. "Weightmans may have diversified with us if a merger had progressed," he said. "It's unfair to Weightmans to talk about it in relation to the current merger. If you do want to compare the two firms, it is fair to say that the merger talks with Weightmans were unusual in that Hill Dickinson is built on mergers with small firms. We go into the merger with Gorna confidently."