Cobbetts and Halliwell Landau plan to join forces

Manchester firms Cobbetts and Halliwell Landau are in merger talks. The combined firm would be the largest commercial law firm in Manchester with a projected turnover of £19m this year.

And although the firms describe the talks as being at a preliminary stage, a target date of 1 May has been set. All the lawyers have been brought together for at least one meeting.

Halliwell Landau is well-known as a corporate and entrepreneurial firm, while Cobbetts acts for more established and institutional clients.

The combined property team would have a turnover of £5m a year – in itself larger than the total turnover of all but three or four other Manchester firms.

Cobbetts is a leader in 'soft' intellectual property, such as designs and trade marks, while Halliwell Landau is involved in 'hard' IP – patents, engineering and biotech, for example.

It is understood that one perceived problem with a merger was a cultural difference between the two firms. Halliwell Landau is seen as being driven, aggressive and ruled by 'barons' – a classic entrepreneur's law firm. Cobbetts favours the staid, quieter lawyer suited to a long-established firm.

But sources from within the firms say the differences are less than originally thought when they began the talks.