Shakespeares joins with Putsmans for £20m firm

Birmingham firms Putsmans and Shakespeares have agreed to merge, creating a new £20m player in the Birmingham mid-market.

As first reported on www. thelawyer.com (10 October), the combined firm will have more than 50 partners and be effective from April 2007.

Putsmans chairman Terry Lipscombe said: “The Birmingham mid-market has changed a lot in recent years with many new firms competing. We want to have the size and strength to be able to compete and offer excellent terms.

“Also, in these days of uncertainty about deregulation, a £20m firm can survive better than two £10m firms.”

The two firms have not yet confirmed the name of the combined entity, although Lipscombe said it would be “some combination of the two names, depending on which sounds best phonetically”.

Putsmans chief executive Paul Wilson will be the merged firm’s chief executive. This follows his move from Olswang, where he was head of the Thames Valley office, 12 weeks ago.

The combined firm’s managing and senior partners have not yet been finalised, but Lipscombe and Shakespeares’ senior partner Michael Hibbs are likely to retain senior roles.

Lipscombe said: “It’s a question of who is most capable of doing the job at that time [April 2007]. In a firm that’s twice the size, those posts may well need refining.”

He said that the two firms have similar practice areas and the combined entity would continue to focus on private client work and services for the small and medium-sized enterprise market. Its staff will integrate into a single site, now occupied by Shakespeares.

The merger is the second for Putsmans in five years, after its tie-up with Wilcox Lane Clutterbuck in October 2001. That merger made Putsmans a 21-partner firm with a turnover of £10m.