We can Birkett out

Birketts and Birkett Long rivalry intensifies with tit-for-tat mergers

There is a war going on in the Essex legal market. It dates back to 1995, when Birketts and Birkett Long demerged. Fifteen years later Ipswich-based Birketts combined with Chelmsford firm Wollastons, meaning Birketts and Birkett Long were back in competition in Chelmsford for the first time since the break-up.

Birketts boss Nigel Farthing said at the time that there was a risk of confusion after his firm achieved its goal of being present in all four East Anglian counties, but said head-to-head competition would see the differences come to the fore.

Now Birkett Long has taken the initiative, bulking up down the road in Basildon through a merger with Brian Ruff Angus & Jewers, whose base was in fact two miles out of town in Wickford.

Birketts – now this is confusing – has no base in Basildon itself, focusing instead on the four key East Anglian hubs of Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich and Norwich. Indeed, if you search for those four place names on Google, the firm is the first hit.

The M11, A11, A12, and A140 that link the four locations in a trapezoid may well be choc-a-block with Birketts clients driving to visit their lawyers, meaning Birkett Long will surely be increasingly jealous. The latter has offices only in Basildon, Chelmsford and Colchester, so the overlap is still limited to one location. If that changes, we could see an all-out turf war in the heated legal market of East Anglia.