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Leeds-based firm Whittles is taking its first step towards becoming a national practice by opening an office in Newcastle.The union specialist, which already has offices in Leeds, Manchester and Sutton Coldfield, plans to open its fourth office within the next two months.It has already found premises in Newcastle city centre.Partner Julie Blackburn tells The Lawyer that if the office is successful it will open further branches across the country.She says: "We are very much looking to compete nationally - we already have work in the South West, for example."We may also need to have a London base. We are looking to have a more national profile."[The Newcastle office] is very much part of an expansion plan, although obviously a cautious expansion."Blackburn claims that the decision to practise on a national level has been client driven.She says: "We have existing clients [in Newcastle] who wanted us to service them on their doorstep."We also had potential clients that said 'If you are here, you will definitely get the work'. It is our policy that we get out to the clients."The 18-partner firm has 170 staff.Blackburn confirms it will increase its staffing levels, including partners, but the actual numbers will depend on how successful the expansion is.Whittles is still finalising how many permanent staff it will have in the Newcastle office.
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