Kester Cunningham prepares to seal merger with Ashton Graham

The partnerships of East Anglia firms Kester Cunningham John and Ashton Graham are expected to vote on a proposed merger within the next four to six weeks.

Simon Smith
Simon Smith

The firms have been in formal talks since September 2010. If the merger gets the go-ahead it would create one of the largest firms in East Anglia. Ashton Graham currently has 19 partners and 150 staff across offices in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Felixstowe, while Kester Cunningham  has 26 partners across its offices in Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Thetford and Norwich. 

Both firms have a strong focus on commercial, private client and personal injury work. Around £6m of Kester Cunningham’s £9.9m turnover comes from its private client and personal injury practices, while property accounts for 23 per cent. 

Kester Cunningham chief executive Simon Smith told The Lawyer: “We’re having very serious constructive discussions, but we’re yet to make a final decision. We expect that to follow in the next four to six weeks.

“There are a lot of developments going at the moment and we’re all trying to find ways of facing up to the new legal landscape and chart the way ahead. We’re a good fit in terms of geography and practice areas, and conceptually the deal makes sense. The discussions have been positive and the chemistry is good, but it’ll only go ahead if we get the unanimous support of the partners.”

Smith believes similar tie-ups in East Anglia could be on the cards this year ahead of the introduction of the Legal Services Act in October.

He added:  “A lot of firms are talking to each other but haven’t gone as far as we have. There have been a lot of still-born and low level discussions, but not as formal as what we’re doing.”