Merger forms Durham giant

Seven-partner, five-office Durham firm Blackett Hart & Pratt has merged with four-partner Walton Hardy & Clough to form one of County Durham's largest practices.

Partner Karen Thompson has also joined as a lateral hire from Newcastle's Deas Mallen Souter, and will do financial services work.

Former Blackett Hart assistants Ursula Collie, Catherine Shewan and Annabel Beattie have also been appointed partners. The firm now has 14 partners and over 70 support staff spread across six offices in County Durham, and will practise under the name Blackett Hart & Pratt.

The management structure will effectively remain the same. John Pratt will continue in the role of managing partner and former Walton Hardy partner Terry Hamer is head of criminal litigation at the merged firm.

The merger sees Walton Hardy adding its general practice including strong criminal, personal injury and matrimonial practices to Blackett Hart's general practice.

Pratt said: “The coming together of the firms seemed a logical progression for us both. A single entity will provide the new firm's clients with an enhanced range of personal and corporate legal advice.”