Cobbetts and Lee Crowder merge to create top 50 firm

Cobbetts and Birmingham’s Lee Crowder have agreed to merge on 1 May 2004, creating a top 50 firm based on turnover.

As first revealed on www.thelawyer.com (28 November), the combined firm, to be called Cobbetts, expects turnover to be £45m in its first full financial year. Cobbetts expects revenues to increase by 15.4 per cent to £30m for the year ending 30 April 2004. Lee Crowder estimates turnover will remain steady at £11m for the same period.

The new firm will comprise 116 partners, including 52 equity, who will all move into Cobbetts’ existing modified lockstep.

Under the terms of the merger Michael Shaw and Stephen White, Cobbetts’ managing and senior partners respectively, will retain their positions in the merged firm.

Lee Crowder senior partner Stephen Gilmore will step down from his current post and take over as national head of corporate. The firm’s chief executive Bryan Tickner, a qualified accountant, will leave next April.

“I believe that the merger has the potential to give a completely unique and desirable market offering for both clients who want to engage our services, and for personnel who aspire to develop with a mature and responsible environment,” said Shaw.

Shaw added that the new firm, which will have offices in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and London, does not want to get sucked into the City market as this would impact on its regional offering.

As first reported in The Lawyer last month (24 November), Cobbetts is launching a London office to service international clients gained through its recent merger with niche mining firm Fox Brooks Marshall.

“It’s a superb deal all round for Cobbetts and Lee Crowder and is the best regional deal that has been done in many years. It’s a step up the ladder for both firms,” said Gilmore.

From 1 December Lee Crowder will operate under the name Cobbetts Lee Crowder, until 1 May. The firm is also planning to move into larger premises at the beginning of next year, which will cater for a significant rise in headcount.