Offices spring up as firms catch Bristol property bug

Not content to advise clients that are active in the booming Bristol property scene, several of the city’s law firms have decided to get a piece of the action themselves

Earlier this month, Osborne Clarke bagged £9m gross profit by building its own new offices at Temple Back East and then promptly entering into a sale and leaseback agreement, saving itself the equivalent of six year’s rent. It moved into the new offices during the summer.

Also on the move is TLT Solicitors, which is completing the integration process that began two years ago with the merger between local firms Trumps and Lawrence Tucketts. Since then, staffing numbers have increased 25 per cent to 300, of which 32 are partners, and fee income grew last year by 15 per cent to £16m.

Currently split between two sites, the firm is bringing all of its staff together in 50,000sq ft spread over five floors at One Redcliff Street, a 14-storey landmark block in the centre of the city. The firm already has two floors in the building, formerly home to Trumps, but some of the former Lawrence Tucketts staff had remained in their old building, Bush House.

Managing partner David Pester said: “The opportunity came along that allows us to bring everybody together into one building. We wanted to create a new and interesting environment for people to work in and this means we can completely refit the space the way we want it.”

TLT has also recruited two new lawyers this month from City firms. Assistant Louise Myles has joined from DJ Freeman and associate Simon Goss from Berwin Leighton Paisner. They are joined by barrister Robert Foote, formerly with Pitmans in Reading.

Not to be outdone, second-tier rival Clarke Willmott & Clarke is moving its Bristol office for the second time in three years, following its merger with niche sports practice Ensor Byfield in May this year, which added five partners to the practice.

The 46-partner firm has announced plans to move in the spring from its current Bristol headquarters at St James Court to new purpose-built offices on the site of the old Courage Brewery. Almost half of the firm’s 480 staff are now based in Bristol, with the remainder split between Taunton – where the offices have recently been extended – and Southampton. Last year, turnover at the firm rose by more than 20 per cent to £18.7m.

Bond Pearce is another firm on the move, following last summer’s merger with Cartwrights. The firm is consolidating its two sites in the city by taking an additional two floors of space at its Bristol Bridge House offices. The new space will be used to accommodate the 60 staff currently housed in a separate site.

The move, expected to go through in February next year, will bring its 150-plus Bristol team under one roof for the first time. It is part of the firm’s wider £3m-plus investment programme, which includes new £1.5m offices in Southampton to house its 200 staff in the city.