Cities with promise

Sheffield and Hull have become important legal centres for specialised firms.

London-based firm Nabarro Nathanson operates an office in Hull specialising in shipping, while its office in Doncaster contains the majority of British Coal's ex-legal team. The firm's northern base has a reputation nationally for local government work (partner David Abram is based there and recognised as an expert on the area) and local lawyers expect Sheffield or Leeds to be the site of another regional office for the firm.

This area is also the base for large firms with a widespread of offices, such as 33-partner Rollit Farrell & Bladon, which has five offices in the area and is well-known for its commercial work.

For many local firms, the issue is franchising, which has not proved popular and confuses many lawyers.

Sheffield-based John Howell & Co is one of the largest legal aid firms in the area. Irwin Mitchell has made a national impression with its litigation work (although it does cover everything from corporate to commercial in addition).

The city is also the base for Oxley & Coward, one of the best-known health specialist practices in the country. Philip Hamer & Co is a firm which took a high profile role in the original moves toward BS5750 for lawyers and has a national reputation for its legal aid work and company commercial practice. Other practices of note in the area include Wilkin Chapman, Andrew M Jackson & Co (which has a small shipping niche) and Stamp Jackson & Procter.