The newly created 38-partner firm will retain the name Ward Hadaway. Keenlyside & Forster staff will move to the firm’s premises in Newcastle and South Shields.
Earlier this month talks between Ward Hadaway and fellow Newcastle practice Watson Burton collapsed after several months of discussions.
In a joint statement the firms claimed the talks had come to a halt because their individual strategies did not sufficiently match (The Lawyer, 17 January).
Ward Hadaway managing partner Jamie Martin claims the Keenlyside & Forster merger is a more suitable marriage.
He says: “Keenlyside & Forster’s areas of specialism fit very nicely with our own expert knowledge, particularly in the fields of commercial and residential property.”
The firm will now consist of 38 partners and 36 solicitors and four chartered town planners, with a total staff of 150.
Keenlyside & Forster partner Alan Harkness says the firm approached Ward Hadaway several months ago.
He says: “We approached Ward Hadaway some time ago because it is a firm of vision and ambition.
“We are all very enthusiastic about joining and see it as a positive move for all parties involved.”
The merger is part of Ward Hadaway’s ambitious expansion plans to double fee income and increase staffing levels by 60 per cent.
Martin says that commercial and residential property is one of the areas “highlighted for growth in our strategic business plan”.
Harkness adds: “The merger will create a team of solicitors and town planners with even more strength in depth which can only be good news for our respective clients.”
The newly created firm is the second largest in the area, behind 48-partner Dickinson Dees.