Rival firms abandon Newmarket

Two rival Cambridge regional firms are to close their Newmarket offices following internal shake-ups in which one firm will lose three of its long-standing partners.

The Taylor Vinters branch office, best known for its bloodstock department headed by Jeremy Richardson, will close in October. Hewitson Becke + Shaw is pulling out of the town later this month.

Taylor Vinters' decision to end the firm's historic association with Newmarket forms part of what it describes as a “major realignment” of its practice.

The branch office originally housed the large 70-lawyer Newmarket practice, Taylors, before it merged with Cambridge-based Vinters in 1988.

Over the years most of the office's lawyers have moved over to the firm's main Cambridge office, which concentrates on corporate, commercial property and high net worth work along with civil litigation.

The five qualified lawyers who remain make up the bloodstock and a general high street practice. They will be transferred to Cambridge although Richardson retires next month and will become a consultant.

As part of the shake-up, however, two partners, Richard Newbery and Fraser Paskell, are leaving the firm by “mutual agreement”.

A third, Martin Blakemore, is in discussions about his future with the firm.

According to Taylor Vinters, the closure of the office marks the final stage of the firm's move away from being an old fashioned high street solicitors practice.

Taylor Vinters chair Herbert Robinson said: “The existence of a separate office dilutes our strategy and draws resources away from it.”

The firm will continue to operate a bloodstock department, with litigator Christine Berry taking over from Richardson.

She has been appointed an associate partner along with Jennifer Warren, who has joined the firm from the City practice Bates, Wells & Braithwaite, where she was also a partner.

Hewitson Becke + Shaw is relocating its two-partner operation to Saffron Walden, reducing the number of towns where it has a presence from five to four.

Managing partner Alan Brace said the move to focus the firm's activities in four centres formed part of its strategy to develop a series of niche specialist lawyer teams as opposed to a series of high street-based practices.