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London and Oxford commercial firm Manches & Co is merging with old Gray's Inn solicitors Rubinstein Callingham Polden & Gale next week.
The surprise move will combine a potent mix of specialist expertise and strengthen existing niche areas of both practices within a new top 100 firm. It is expected to have a u15 million turnover.
The new firm will combine teams in commercial and property law, traditional strengths of both firms. It also adds Rubinsteins international publishing, advertising and entertainment specialism, including top client CondC Nast, to Manches' largely Oxford-based publishing department.
It will also combine great strengths in high-value matrimonial work, with Rubinstein Callingham partner Richard Sax and Manches partners Jane Simpson and Helen Ward representing three of the top ten 'magic circle'.
Rubinsteins brings 19 fee-earners including eight partners and three consultants to the deal, boosting the new firm to 41 partners and 93 fee-earners, with a total of over 200 staff.
Alastair Simpson, Manches senior partner, says the move is consistent with the firm's strategy for developing areas supplementing core work, and the ability to provide niche services that City firms do not.
"We are satisfied that there really is stategic synergy," says Simpson.
The new firm will remain as Manches, losing Rubensteins' 170-year old name.
The merger will boost Manches' current u12 million turnover by around 25 per cent, says Simpson.
Sidney Gale, senior partner at Rubinsteins, says the move also meets his firm's strategy.
Two partners will not be joining of their own volition.
Staff fall-out effects 16 Rubinsteins people, including five lawyers, who will receive redundancy where appropriate.