<a class=Muckle” />Unlike many of the bigger corporate firms in Newcastle, Muckle has its eyes set almost exclusively on the local market.

Managing partner Stephen McNicol says: “If some of our competitors want to move out of the region, that’s entirely up to them, and they probably have very strong business reasons to do so. But our Newcastle clients are our bedrock. We may have been doing a lot of work for listed companies, but our bread-and-butter is still doing work for the small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] based in the North East. It’s important not to alienate SME businesses here and some of our big clients have grown from being very small clients.”

Muckle hopes this bedrock will work to its advantage as the bigger players begin to cast their nets around the region and beyond.

In Muckle’s recent past lies modernisation and expansion, including its rebrand from Robert Muckle to Muckle last year, its conversion to limited-liability partnership status and outgrowing its offices of more than 50 years.

The result is that “people have started to take our business more seriously”, says McNicol.

Muckle’s five-year plan is to grow from its current size of around 70 fee-earners to 120, although McNicol points out that this will depend on whether the wider market improves.

The firm’s rapidly growing public sector team will be one of the ingredients for the firm’s overall growth, as will its corporate commercial team, which contributes around a third of turnover. Commercial property makes up another third.

The private client team is being rebuilt almost from scratch after the original team was axed in the 1990s, when private client was not considered particularly sexy. Now the firm hopes that private client will provide cross-referrals to corporate.

Muckle also does its bit for charity, with 1 per cent of partnership profits being invested in a trust to help the local community and the region’s SMEs.

Managing partner: Stephen McNicol
Turnover: £9.39m (2006-07)
Number of partners: 21
Number of lawyers: 50
Number of trainees: 10
Number of support staff: 67
Main practice areas: Corporate commercial, commercial property, employment, dispute resolution, public sector, private client
Main clients: Arriva, McAleer & Rushe, Greggs, Specials Laboratories, Grill Group, One NorthEast, North Music Trust
Number of offices: One
Location: Newcastle