Thompsons opens two new offices in expansion drive

Thompsons is dramatically expanding its practice size and scope – three months after a radical shake-up which saw 11 equity partners leave the firm.

The trade union and personal injury firm is opening offices in Teesside and Plymouth. Plans for a further office will be announced next month.

The number of partners at each office has not been finalised. But senior managing partner Geoff Shears says: “Teesside is likely to have two or three partners plus support staff. Plymouth is likely to be a smaller issue and there will be at least one partner initially.”

Both offices will only handle personal injury work.

Shears adds: “We are in the process of expanding our employment rights work, including our pensions work, and taking on more fee earners to cope with ever increasing demand. Our criminal work is also expanding and we are taking on more criminal specialists.”

Thompsons culled 11 equity partners through voluntary resignations three months ago. At the time, the firm attributed the move to the Woolf reforms, although rivals claimed it had been top heavy for some time (The Lawyer, 15 March).

Shears now says of the resignations: “We are less top heavy and that puts us in a position to expand across a wide area, which is what we are doing.”

The firm is also pledging to take on more “middle ranking fee earners”. But Shears will not say how many: “It is difficult to [specify] a precise number because so much depends on how the expansion works.”

The announcements come despite claims by the union representing Thompsons' employees that it is still looking to “shed staff”.

A GMB union spokesman says: “Negotiations are going on and have been for a while about a restructuring exercise within Thompsons.