Ward Hadaway and Watson Burton in Toon transfer shock

Newcastle-based Ward Hadaway has hired the former senior partner of local arch-rival Watson Burton Andrew Hoyle.

Hoyle, who was ousted from Watson Burton last year in a coup by the partnership (The Lawyer, 26 September 2006), joins Ward Hadaway as a partner with a mandate to repeat the expansion he oversaw at his previous firm, which included opening bases in Leeds and London.

This is likely to include opening offices in Leeds, Manchester or both within 12 months.

Ward Hadaway managing partner Jamie Martin said: “Newcastle’s a small legal market and most of us have known Andrew for some time and have admired what he’s done.

“It’s too early to make any announcement about where the next move will be, but we’re reviewing our options in both Leeds and Manchester.

“This strategy is about putting our necks on the block and believing in ourselves, and if ever there was a time for law firms to take risks, it’s now with [the] Clementi [reforms].”

A Leeds base would see the firm focus on housebuilding, planning, public sector and banking work, while a Manchester launch would target the housebuilding and NHS healthcare markets, as well as work for small to medium-sized enterprises and owner-managed businesses.

Martin said the firm was interested in lateral hires and mergers in both locations, but “won’t be the solution for badly managed firms”.