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Wragge & Co is recruiting an in-house lawyer from venture capitalist 3i in a bid to push it into the top five of certain niche legal areas.
Peter McLintock is due to join Wragges' private equity team in August. Managing partner Quentin Poole says: "Peter is a visible force within the private equity world, and has been so for a number of years. He is a natural choice."
Poole adds that this is the start of a campaign by Wragges to expand certain departments, including pensions, construction, intellectual property, IT, energy, and property development.
Many of these departments have grown by more than 30 per cent this year, he says.
"There is no way we can compete with 'magic circle' firms in the larger areas of law. Our plan is to outdo them on things they are not so practised in," he says.
Wragges is looking for two more partners and seven more assistants for its private equity department, and wants to recruit in bulk for all its specialist departments.
The recruitment comes as the firm announces this week a rise in its fee income from u34m to u42m. It plans to break through the u50m barrier next year.
Wragges is now launching a predatory campaign to poach lawyers from national and second-tier City firms.
Poole claims national lawyers are becoming despondent with having to re-allocate work among other lawyers in different regions.
"If they work for us," he says, "they can be based in Birmingham and deal with work anywhere. They won't have to give it up just because they are not from the Leeds or London office, or wherever.
"Our policy also attracts clients because they won't be shunted from one lawyer to another. They know one localised team will be in charge of their case and not a scattered one.
"Only the second-tier firms with niche practices will be able to survive the current legal market. Firms like Macfarlanes, Olswang and Bird & Bird that are developing specialist areas will thrive. But as for the rest, I don't think their futures are as rosy."