St James Homes was previously advised by leading property firm Berwin Leighton Paisner.
Watson Burton will advise the London office of St James – a joint venture between Berkeley Group and Thames Water – on all legal aspects of its construction operations and, in particular, will help the group to review all of its construction contracts.
Watson Burton has one of the largest construction departments in the North, with five partners and 24 fee-earners.
It won the new instructions because of the reputation of partner Mark Lawton. Lawton, who heads the firm's con-struction department, was chosen by St James because of the quality of advice he and his team provided to clients including Bellway and Charles Church.
The firm has made some inroads into the national property market. Recently, the firm has provided construction law advice to the regional offices of Kvaerner, Sir Robert McAlpine, Persimmon and Skanska.
Watson Burton has also won instructions from Zurich Insurance in relation to professional indemnity work.
Lawton said: “St James Group came to us because of our reputation and specialist expertise. Client recommendations are the best form of marketing and a great way to establish new clients.