Away from London, there has been a build-up of large, modern multi-site practices. Usually competing with City players in terms of skills, they have a clear cost and convenience advantage.

During the early 1980s, attracted by lower rents and good communications, many large companies moved to Reading, followed by the major accountants. These exploited the lack of a high-level local infrastructure, and legal services seemed set to follow. Yet, although several London firms have tried, few have succeeded.

There are several reasons for this. First, local practices concentrated on building up their commercial expertise in the 1980s and emphasised price and value. Also there has been a clear rejection of the high degree of specialisation imposed by larger London firms. Finally, many regional firms have focused the evolution of their own business activity.

The result is a highly competitive region which is well set to make further gains.