Manches takes over Oxford firm

City firm Manches & Co has taken on five of the seven partners and all four assistants of 224-year-old Oxford firm Morrell Peel & Gamlen, nearly doubling the size of its Oxford office.

The two remaining Morrell partners – private client lawyer Nigel Roots and property lawyer Richard Bell – are to join Boodle Hatfield's Oxford office. It is understood they were not invited to join Manches.

Morrell's former senior partner, property lawyer Peter Webber, defected to Boodle Hatfield's Oxford office two years ago. He declined to comment on the reasons for the demise of the firm. But he said: “I was at the firm for 11 per cent of its 200-year history. It is very sad and I get precious little satisfaction out of it.”

However, he said he was excited at being able to add to the Oxford office's existing strengths in private client and property by bringing in his two former colleagues at Morrells.

One of the five partners joining Manches, Jonathan Anelay, is to go in-house at Oxford University in November. He will, however, remain with the firm as a consultant until June next year.

Morrells senior partner Alan Poulter said the moves came about because “we realised we needed the resources of a larger firm to continue with our clients in the key expanding areas of intellectual property and IT work”.

Manches' Oxford office, its only one outside London, was set up 15 years ago to service commercial clients in the Thames Valley area.

Morrells' office will be retained. Peter Angel, head of Manches' Oxford office said that the moves would provide “tremendous opportunities for expansion” particularly in the areas of publishing, IT and “technology transfer” – advising universities and research institutions on commercialising their research.