MERGER-hungry Eversheds is to take over Cambridge firm Palmer Wheeldon in November to realise its long-held ambition to open in the university city.
When the merger goes ahead as planned, Eversheds will challenge Mills & Reeve's position as the largest practice in East Anglia.
After taking on Palmer Wheeldon's 22 fee earners, Eversheds will have 175 lawyers based in offices in Norwich, Cambridge and Ipswich.
However, only four of Palmer Wheeldon's eight partners – Ian Mather, Philip Speer, Nick Toovey and Jane Lichtenstein – will become Eversheds partners.
Three others, who only became partners in April this year, will revert to being associates. One, Lindsay Messenger, is to set up her own niche mental health legal practice.
As part of the merger three Eversheds partners, including the head of its national property group, Cornelius Medvei, will relocate from Norwich to Cambridge to bolster the Palmer Wheeldon team.
Palmer Wheeldon's Lichtenstein described the merger as “an engagement with a late autumn wedding”. She added: “Our main growth area has been commercial work. The merger with Eversheds is a big step forward in the same direction.”
Colin Brown, Eversheds' regional managing partner, said: “Our clients and professional contacts have been encouraging us to establish an office in Cambridge.”