Cobbetts, DWF and the Leeds refuseniks

DWF’s rescue acquisition of troubled Manchester firm Cobbetts is now a done deal, and details of the merger are coming thick and fast.

For a start, DWF will not take all of Cobbetts’ 491 staff – a figure that includes 72 partners. Cobbetts’ 27-strong finance litigation team will not go to DWF. The reason, according to DWF, is that the practice would not sit well with DWF’s freshly acquired professional indemnity team, formerly Fishburns. Instead, the Leeds-based team will go to Walker Morris, which also advised Cobbetts’ bank Lloyds on the pre-pack deal. For more on who landed what roles in the administration, click here.

Walker Morris managing partner Ian Gilbert told The Lawyer that his firm was “already strong in [financial litigation]” but that the opportunity to snatch the Cobbetts team was “too good an opportunity to miss”. He added that the acquisition was a complementary fit and that no one in the team would be made redundant.

Less happily, Cobbetts’ debt recovery business Incasso will not move to DWF either and no buyer for the team has yet been announced. However, given that The Lawyer has heard that it wasn’t just DWF that was interested in acquiring Cobbetts, there could be hope for the team yet.

Meanwhile, DWF has agreed to honour all Cobbetts’ training contract obligations, including those promised to people who had not started yet. This will be a relief to many. As The Lawyer reported at the end of January, it was not as though the SRA was going to be any help.

PS The Lawyer’s sister magazine Lawyer 2B is holding a ‘Law for Non-Law’ careers evening on 20 February in association with the College of Law. It is an event designed specifically to guide and engage with students who have not studied a law degree but wish to pursue a career in law. For further details click here.


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