Weightmans takes Vizards team to open London office

Liverpool firm responds to client pressure; professional indemnity a key target

Weightmans is opening its first London office following its merger with a contingent from Vizard Oldham. The national firm has swooped on Vizards, hiring its entire litigation group.
The move decimates the London firm as 16 of its 23 partners will join the merged entity. The seven remaining partners, who make up the commercial department, will continue to operate as Vizard Oldham.
Weightmans senior partner Ian Evans said: “We’ve been looking at London for some time. We believe it’s necessary to have a London base to exploit opportunities in key practice areas.” The intention is to mould a national specialist litigation practice from the firms’ core strengths. “We identified Vizard Oldham as providing synergies in work and client targets,” he added.
The two firms have clients in common. Both are members of the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) panel.
Ron Perry will assume the role of senior partner at Vizard Oldham. He said: “The me-rger of the NHSLA work and Weightmans’ work has been under discussion for many months and will be effected on 30 April 2002. We wish them well and look forward to concentrating on our own separate clients and practice.”
Weightmans is currently scouting for property in the Chancery Lane area and plans to be open for business by May next year. The new firm will be known as Weightmans Vizard and will total 70 partners. It will be led by the current Weightmans hierarchy of Evans and managing partner Michael Radcliffe.
Vizards senior partner Richard Foster is to join the enlarged firm’s national strategy board. A management role also beckons for finance partner Mark Whittaker. He will become a member of the national operations board.
Weightmans has been under pressure to open in London for some time. Evans said that professional indemnity clients in particular have pushed for this development.
The combined practice will concentrate on areas targeted for future growth. In addition to insurance and professional indemnity the firm will seek to target the public sector market.
Evans said: “This team gave us the opportunity to create not just a base, but a base that is already thriving.”
He said: “We’re absolutely delighted. We spent a long time looking for the right partner. The response from clients has been absolutely wonderful and wholly supportive.”