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Thompsons is to become the first law firm to operate in all three UK Law Society jurisdictions after it announced plans to open an office in Belfast.
The firm is setting up in partnership with local firm McClure & Co to form Thompsons McClure, bringing the firm's total number of offices to 17.
A leading trade union and personal injury firm, Thompsons announced the opening of two new offices in Plymouth and Teesside last month as part of a major expansion plan.
It will now become the only British firm with offices in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Belfast firm McClure & Co already specialises in personal injury and trade union work in the local area, with clients including Unison and the Fire Brigades Union.
Partner Oonagh McClure describes the firm as "one of the foremost personal injury firms in Northern Ireland".
Geoff Shears, Thompsons' senior managing partner, says the move is a response to a growing demand from union clients for representation in the region.
"Many unions organise in Northern Ireland, so it is a logical step for us to take," he says. "It will make the delivery of legal services easier for our major clients. We will be able to offer a seamless, cost-effective service across the jurisdictions of three Law Societies," says Shears.
The office will continue to operate with two resident partners, but senior partner Paul Shevlin, who will become regional partner for Thompsons, says plans for expansion and recruitment are already underway. "We already work for many unions," says Shevlin.
"Our culture is essentially the same as Thompsons, and their back-up and expertise will give us an unbeatable platform.
"Although we have to call this a partnership because it is across jurisdictions, it will, to all intents and purposes, be a formal merger."