Regional heavyweights revealed in Legal 500
The top West Midlands law firms named as "regional heavyweights" in the updated directory of legal services providers have been revealed today (2 October 2014).
There was a general uptick of activity and increased market confidence across the region in 2013, according to the Legal 500.
Real estate registered the greatest boost, with flagship projects such as Birmingham New Street and Paradise Circus sitting at the top of a wave of redevelopments.
There was also an increased interest in Birmingham from foreign investors observed in the year, as London markets become overheated.
As work on the HS2 rail project gathers momentum, there is growing speculation over the impact it will have on the region.
Nine firms in the Legal 500 are described as "regional heavyweights" for 2013: Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, DLA Piper, Gateley, Irwin Mitchell, SGH Martineau, Shoosmiths and Squire Patton Boggs.
Despite it being early days for the newly formed Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co – the result of a merger between the West Midlands giant and city firm Lawrence Graham in May – it still stars as the leading regional heavyweight.
The firm has one of the largest real estate practices nationally, as well as notable international capabilities. The banking and finance team fielded some of the highest-level expertise in the local market, the guide noted. Other areas of strength include dispute resolution, pensions and intellectual property.
In the second tier, Eversheds boosted its regional and corporate offering with the hire of former DLA Piper UK managing partner Mark Beardmore. The firm had an "outstanding year" on the commercial property side, acting on the flagship New Street Station and Pallasades redevelopment projects.
Pinsent Masons is well known for its strength across the public and private sectors, acting for a variety of major blue-chip companies and public bodies.
DLA Piper, sitting in the third tier of firms with Gateley, has had to cope with a number of departures in recent years, including its former managing partner and technology head Simon Jones, both to Eversheds, in the autumn of 2013. However, with a 'one firm' model, the practice leads the way in terms of its cross-border capabilities, and has been active on some of the region's largest corporate transactions.
With a long history in the Midlands, Gateley combines a strong commitment to the region with an integrated national practice. The firm is a leader in the real estate sector, and stands out for its specialist housebuilder practice, the Legal 500 said.
Making up the fourth and final tier of regional heavyweights are Irwin Mitchell, SGH Martineau, Shoosmiths and Squire Patton Boggs.
Irwin Mitchell made continued efforts to branch out beyond its traditional stronghold of insurance law. Jon Bew's recently established banking and finance team added further high-calibre lawyers and is acting in increasingly sophisticated transactions.
Working closely with its London office, SGH Martineau operates around core sector focuses such as energy and education, and is unusual in the local market for its niche expertise in Islamic finance.
Shoosmiths' Birmingham practice continued to thrive during 2013. The corporate practice had a landmark year, demonstrating growing capabilities in cross-border transactions, and the litigation team remains highly regarded in the market.
Squire Patton Boggs combined increasingly strong cross-border capabilities with a core local client base; litigation, commercial property, construction and corporate remained areas of particular strength.