Southampton-based firm Woodford & Ackroyd and a larger firm, Trethowans of Salisbury, officially merged today (1 October), to create Trethowan Woodford.

The merged firm has immediately announced plans to recruit eight more lawyers and will rank among the top 15 firms in the South West.

The appointments will take the practice up to a total of 22 partners and 19 assistant solicitors. The firm will specialise in commercial law and litigation, and its largest office will be in Southampton.

The firm has already announced plans to merge with another firm, possibly in Portsmouth, Basingstoke or Winchester, in the next two to three years. But its commercial services division head, Catherine MacRae, said this would only take place after the current changes had bedded down.

MacRae is one of the two key partners in the merged practice, both of whom used to work for Trethowans. She and managing partner, John Fletcher, were appointed after a “friendly discussion”.

Woodfords' senior partner, Keith Wiseman, chair of the Football Association and a well-known figure, is senior partner in the merged firm.

MacRae denied Trethowans, which is keen to develop commercial work, was mainly interested in Woodford's clients.