Clarke Willmott has finalised its strategy review, confirming plans to launch an office in the North and for aggressive expansion in Birmingham.

The Bristol-based firm’s 65 partners spent a weekend partnership conference (6-7 October) hammering out ambitious growth plans.

Managing partner David Sedgwick said that although the firm has not confirmed whether it would open an office in the North via a merger or through lateral hires, any potential merger partner would be chosen on the basis of cultural fit rather than location.

He said the firm is looking to build on its strengths in retail and real estate, and expand both the banking and finance, and corporate teams in Birmingham.

“There will be expansions in terms of people, turnover and geography,” said Sedgwick. “We’ll stick with our plan to grow through our existing groups because we aim to be more important in the sectors in which we’re already strong.”

As part of this, Clarke Willmott is targeting more high-net-worth clients for its private client group. It is also reorganising its food and drink practice to achieve greater differentiation between types of clients. The plan shows confidence in the future despite recent raids on the property team by rival Bristol-based firm Osborne Clarke, including residential property star David Powell.

However, Clarke Willmott regained strength last week (11 October) with the hire of Cobbetts’ Birmingham property litigation head Martyn Liberson.