Dickinson Dees has plundered North East rival Watson Burton to replenish its insolvency team following the retirement of long-serving insolvency partner and head of banking Gordon Sanderson.

Watson Burton will lose its only insolvency partner, the highly rated Julian Gill, to Dickinsons by next May at the latest.

Watson Burton Newcastle managing partner Gillian Hall said the firm was “disappointed” by Gill’s departure, but that the split was amicable. She said interviews were currently ongoing to recruit a “high-profile corporate recovery partner” in Newcastle to replace Gill.

Senior partner Robert Langley said he expects a lot of insolvency work in the next year, as 25 per cent of Watson Burton’s business lies in construction, which faces hard times. He therefore plans to “expand the business” in insolvency.

Dickinsons is also on a recruitment drive, as Sanderson, a partner with the firm since 1993, is leaving the profession. Gill will take over and will take on some of newly elected managing partner Jonathan Blair’s work, as he has less time to spend on fee-earning.

“Newcastle’s a very competitive [recruitment] marketplace. To survive in Newcastle you’ve got to be pretty good at what you do,” said Langley.