Commercial chancery set Enterprise Chambers has opened an annexe in Newcastle to take advantage of a flurry of legal activity in the city.
Its move comes as sources say there is now a greater than 50-50 chance that Eversheds and Newcastle firm Wilkinson Maughan will merge.
Head of chambers Anthony Mann QC said the set was following several national solicitors firms into the Tyneside area.
He said the appointment of a Mercantile List judge in Tyneside earlier this year was another reason the London set had decided to open a Quayside annexe.
“We believe it to be a centre where legal work is likely to expand,” said Mann.
The three-barrister annexe will comprise Enterprise barrister Charles Morgan, who has spent the past five years in the Leeds annexe, and Ian Atherton and Soraya McKinnell, who have left Newcastle set Trinity Chambers.
Trinity senior clerk Colin Hands did not wish to comment on the pair's departure.
Enterprise will enter a city where the legal battlelines are set to be radically redrawn with a merger between Eversheds' 17-partner Newcastle office and 26-partner firm Wilkinson Maughan now likely to go ahead.
Nigel Robson, managing partner of Eversheds' Newcastle office, and a Wilkinsons' spokesman confirmed they were in “constructive and positive” merger talks but could not comment further.
Most of the obstacles to the merger have been cleared, with sources saying there is now a strong likelihood that it could be cemented by the end of the month.
The united firm, which will take the Eversheds name, will challenge Tyneside's traditional legal giants Dickinson Dees.