Birmingham firms Putsmans and Willcox Lane Clutterbuck have merged to form a practice with a £10m turnover, 21 partners and a genuine presence in the regional market.
Putsmans chairman Terry Lipscombe believes that the merger will enable the new firm, Putsmans.wlc Solicitors, to compete in the "first division of Birmingham firms". Although some way behind the premiership of Wragge & Co, Eversheds, Pinsent Curtis Biddle and Hammond Suddards Edge, Lipscombe says that the merger will lift the new firm into the second tier of law firms, alongside the likes of Lee Crowder. The merger had been under discussion since May. All nine of the Putsmans partners will transfer to the new practice, where 11 Willcox partners will join them. Willcox currently has 11 equity partners and a further three salaried partners, but two, including the firm's managing partner William Colachicchi, will not join the new firm. Of the two, Peter Clarke decided a year ago to retire, but Colachicchi made it known fairly early on in the merger talks that he did not intend to join the new firm. He will instead be joining the Nottingham office of Browne Jacobson. Putsmans will claim the lion's share of the management positions in the new practice. Lipscombe will continue as chairman, while Tim Roberts, who was appointed as Putsmans' chief executive in August, will also retain his position. The new firm will have a total of 220 staff, of whom 104 will be fee-earners, including 44 qualified solicitors. Putsmans' work breaks down into about 50 per cent insurance, 22 per cent commercial property, 20 per cent corporate commercial and the rest private client. Most of the insurance work is for claimants, while the commercial property work tends to be for national and regional property developers, with key clients including McCarthy & Stone and Barratt subsidiary companies. Willcox, meanwhile, has a defendant-based insurance practice, a larger corporate commercial practice and a commercial property department specialising in portfolio investments. Lipscombe believes that the practice areas are complementary, and from Putsmans' perspective will mean that the firm is "much less heavily influenced by the insurance side". Putsmans.wlc will trade from 1 November, but has yet to find a new home. It will continue to operate from the existing Great Charles Street and Charlotte Street premises, but is presently hunting down new city centre office space.