Watson Burton makes quadruple partner haul

Burgeoning Newcastle firm Watson Burton has raided local and national rivals for four new partners.

The firm has appointed Pinsent Masons corporate veteran Andrew Walker to its partnership for its fledgling Leeds office.

Walker, the former head of Pinsents’ Leeds corporate practice and latterly a consultant, is understood to have been responsible for £2m in client billings during his last year at the firm.

Watson Burton senior partner Andrew Hoyle said: “You wouldn’t have to go very far in the Leeds market to hear strong and encouraging remarks about Andrew.”

Walker will be joined in Watson Burton’s Leeds office by Cobbetts property partner David Bowden.

Meanwhile, Watson Burton has boosted Leeds further with the appointment of Sharon Needle, head of corporate at Sheffield’s Keeble Hawson, and Pinsents senior associate Nick Kippax, who joins as a partner. Both Walker and Needle will be joining the Watson Burton equity, taking the number of equity partners at the firm to 15 out of a total 34.

The lateral hires come as Watson Burton prepares for a slump in its profit per equity partner (PEP), from £635,000 to £475,000. Meanwhile, turnover for the 2004-05 financial year is expected to jump by 17 per cent to £16.1m.

Hoyle attributed the slump in PEP to the firm’s investment in its new Newcastle premises and the launch of its Leeds office.