Tough fight for legal services

Teresa Hitchcock, one of the country's leading environmental lawyers who is based in the Sheffield office of law firm DLA Piper
Teresa Hitchcock, one of the country's leading environmental lawyers who is based in the Sheffield office of law firm DLA Piper
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Competition and recession have turned up the pressure on the market for legal services across Yorkshire.

The last year has seen the closure of Sheffield-based Ashton Morton Slack and the demise of national law firm Halliwells, after only a few years in Sheffield.

Meanwhile, a number of major players have cut the size of their teams and a considerable number of partners have moved firm, according to the latest edition of the Legal 500.

Despite that, three Sheffield firms still maintain a place among Yorkshire’s eight legal heavyweights and six lawyers from the city are ranked among the leading individuals in Yorkshire and Humber.

DLA Piper, with offices in both Sheffield and Leeds, continues to be ranked among the six top tier partnerships, while Irwin Mitchell and Nabarro are the sole occupants of the next tier.

The Legal 500 says DLA Piper’s Yorkshire offices dominate in a number of practice areas and benefit from the firm’s global network, which enables them to attract a high volume of international business, including instructions from Yorkshire companies with an international element and corporates investing into the UK.

Meanwhile, the firm’s corporate team is regularly involved in significant deals, says the Legal 500, citing global human resources, risk and financial managementTowers Watson’s recent acquisition of EMB Software in a deal spanning 11 legal jurisdictions.

Two partners from the firm’s Sheffield office are named among the leading individuals in Yorkshire by the Legal 500 – health and safety specialist Teresa Hitchcock and employment specialist David Bradley who is DLA Piper’s regional managing partner for the UK, a joint global leader for the firm, group head of its operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and UK regional head of its employment, pensions and benefits group, which comprises more than 150 lawyers and consultants.

Irwin Mitchell LLP is hailed by the Legal 500 as a “go-to firm” for personal injury and clinical negligence, while Nabarro is renowned for its real estate expertise, and enjoys a leading reputation for commercial litigation and employment.

John Pickering, who is Irwin Mitchell’s national managing partner, is named among the leading individuals for his personal injury expertise, while Paul Firth, the former head of DLA Piper’s Sheffield office and its managing partner for the UK regions, who joined the firm earlier this year, is named for his commercial property expertise.

Nabarro’s environmental expert Mike Renger is also named as a leading individual as is John Gaunt, from niche alcohol, entertainment and licensing practice John Gaunt & Partners.