Osborne Clarke is launching an attack on the London property market by merging with niche West End property firm McGuinness Finch.
Four property partners, two planning partners and one property litigation partner will join Osborne Clarke on 1 June, following several months of discussions. The team also includes five assistants.
Founded in 1985, McGuinness earned a reputation as one of the City's leading niche property firms, counting Tesco among its clients. More recently it has suffered due to its limited corporate capability, with two partners leaving for larger practices. Moira Fraser left to head planning at West End firm Fladgate Fielder in March this year and Melville Rodrigues joined Rowe & Maw in December 2000.
Commercial property partner Colin Kearney says: "We act for quite a lot of big names and we've been thinking that, strategically, we need to offer them a lot more services. It's very difficult in the West End to attract good company lawyers away from the City. It grates when clients ask you to do a job and you have to refer it on."
Osborne Clarke managing partner Leslie Perrin says: "The London property market is the most demanding in the world, and these guys have prospered in it. So many property deals are structured as corporate deals now that they've suffered competitively because of their lack of critical mass in that area."
Simon Speirs will continue to head real estate and construction at Osborne Clarke. He says the arrival of the team will transform the firm's real estate offering and position it as one of the firm's major practice areas. Until now, the department has been predominantly Bristol-based.
Speirs says: "Importantly, McGuinness has an entre-preneurial style, a sector focus and a client base that is strikingly similar to our own."