The return of the Manchester scene

As the city enjoys a boom, its foremost legal firms are poaching each other’s staff

Confirmation that Irwin Mitchell’s commercial litigation chief John Lord will be joined by five partners and 24 staff in his move to TLT highlights the continuing fluidity of the Manchester market.

Lord joined Irwin Mitchell to head up the Manchester office in 2009 after 13 years at the city’s now-defunct Halliwells. Of the team transferring to TLT, only corporate partner Jon Close is not a Halliwells alumnus. Litigation partner Julien Luke, employment partner Ed Cotton and property partner Andy Bell joined with Lord, with litigator Tom Seabrook following in 2010. Close joined from Freeth Cartwright in 2012.

Having weathered the loss of big names such as Cobbetts and Halliwells, Manchester is booming. One recruiter says that as new firms enter the fray, those that held firm are ready to make their move.

Hence the apparent revolving doors of many of the city’s firms. Though Irwin Mitchell is about to lose a large team to TLT, the hire of four real estate partners from DLA Piper this year was a major coup for the firm. It took DLA Piper’s Manchester chief Roy Beckett as its own regional head, replacing Lord, who relinquished the role a few months before his departure.

Irwin Mitchell also picked up two family partners this year –Fiona Tucker from CKFT and Pannone partner Louise Halford – and Pinsent Masons’ former dispute resolution and litigation head, Nigel Kissack, as its head of commercial litigation. And it wasn’t long after Beckett’s team arrived that insolvency lawyer John Vickery also joined the firm, from DLA Piper in Manchester.