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Trowers & Hamlins’ plan to launch a Birmingham office has received a mixed reaction from the local market, with many labelling the move as opportunistic.
The City-headquartered firm, which has been dogged by speculation regarding the health of its Middle East practice, will open the new office in the city’s Colmore Row on 4 July (TheLawyer. com, 14 June).
The office will initially focus on the affordable housing sector and will be led by senior partner Sara Bailey, joined by London partner Jeremy Hunt and lateral hires Rebecca McGuirk and Yetunde Dania from Shoosmiths.
The announcement has been greeted with nervousness by local firms, with many saying the Birmingham legal market is already overcrowded.
Firms servicing public sector clients in the city include Antony Collins, Bevan Brittan, Cobbetts, Shoosmiths and Wragge & Co.
A partner at one major local firm said: “The Birmingham legal market is already very competitive and I imagine [Trowers] will be fighting to get their share. They have a national reputation in social housing, but they’ll need to keep their fees and costs low to compete in that market. It’s an interesting time to be taking on additional risks.”
A partner at another firm commented: “It’s perplexing. It doesn’t seem to fit in with any international strategy, but perhaps they need to consolidate their operations on home soil.”
The firm also has an office in Manchester focusing on the public sector and a smaller base in Exeter servicing construction and conveyancing clients.
Trowers managing partner Jonathan Adlington was unavailable for comment.