Lester Aldridge to take on City

BOURNEMOUTH firm Lester Aldridge has boosted its family law capacity with the appointment of the head of family from a Surrey firm.

The recruitment of Jane Porter from Harte Brown is part of Lester Aldridge's ambitious plans to rival top London family firms by offering City-type expertise at regional prices.

The practice has set a three-year target to rank with firms like Manches, Withers and Charles Russell.

Family unit head, Stephen Foster, accepts that it is “unusual” for a regional practice to take on its City counterparts, but he is confident the target can be achieved.

Foster says 35 per cent of his personal clients are based in London and the firm's work already extends into Europe and Asia.

“We are seeking to challenge the golden circle family law firms. Our campaign, if you like, is to offer a service comparable with the London firms, but at regional prices.

“Base one was establishing dominance in the South West. But we need to increase the team so that we can resource the family law unit properly.”

Porter is accepting demotion from partner to associate. She accepts having to wait 18 months before returning to a partner post.

“I've done all the partner and department head stuff at quite a young age and was happy to take a breather. It's worth going a few rungs down to fly above in the future.”

Manches family partner William Massey warns it will be difficult to take on the inner circle, with the best clients, barristers and other expertise all on tap in London.

“I'd say that the biggest hurdle is going to be convincing people that they have the expertise and experience in the big money cases,” he says.