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NORTHERN Ireland firms Wilson Nesbitt and Greene & Gribbon are merging to form one of the province's top five practices.
News of the merger rekindled speculation that more mergers may be in the pipeline and speculation is mounting that two other firms in the province are talking about an alliance.
There are 400 firms in Northern Ireland, about 75 per cent of which have just one or two partners.
The newly formed practice will be known as Wilson Nesbitt, boasting five partners and 18 solicitors.
Under the terms of the merger, Gilbert Nesbitt steps down as senior partner to concentrate on a managing role and Greene & Gribbon's Ken Young is named as the new senior partner.
Nesbitt said: "Such is the fragmented nature of practice in the province that this merger creates a new top-five firm."
Wilson Nesbitt is one of the province's largest practices outside Belfast and has established a formidable reputation as a private client and financial services specialist. Belfast-based Greene & Gibbon has made a name for itself as a niche personal injury operator.
Nesbitt added: "We have been trying to get into Belfast in a major way for a couple of years. We now have a wide range of specialists, which will allow us to cater for individual client needs from the cradle to the grave."