Clarke Willmott grows in Birmingham

Clarke Willmott grows in Birmingham” />South West heavyweight Clarke Willmott has signalled its intention to grow significantly its presence in Birmingham with the acquisition of local firm Vernon & Shakespeare.

The four-partner, £1.4m-turnover firm handles a range of corporate and commercial work for local clients, but is best known as an adviser to housebuilder David Wilson Homes, a key Clarke Willmott client. The chance for Clarke Willmott to extend its services to the housebuilder in the Midlands was the spur for the deal.

The merger will be effective from 1 March. All four partners, along with some 40 fee-earners and staff, will move into Clarke Willmott’s existing Birmingham office, although one, David Edge, will retire from the partnership.

Clarke Willmott managing partner David Sedgwick said the deal had advanced the firm’s aim to build up the Birmingham office. “Looking long term,” he said, “Birm-ingham has the potential to be our biggest office.”

Bristol is currently the firm’s largest office, with some 270 staff and lawyers. The Birmingham office will be 60-strong following the Vernon deal, with a target of 100 by the end of the 2006 financial year.

Clarke Willmott’s Birm-ingham office currently handles primarily personal injury work, but Sedgwick said that he would be looking to build commercial property, corporate and commercial and employment.