Signs of recovery for East Mids law firms – Legal 500
The East Midlands legal market has experienced increased signs of activity in the past year after several painful and sluggish years, according to the newly published Legal 500.
Pre-crisis levels of work are not yet in sight but the rise in corporate and property transactions provided room for optimism among many practitioners, the guide said.
Family and personal injury departments, however, continued to feel the pinch of cuts to legal aid, which came into force in April 2013.
A dozen law firms in the area – Browne Jacobson, Freeths, Eversheds, Gateley, Geldards, Shakespeares, Shoosmiths, Flint Bishop, Howes Percival, Nelsons, Spearing Waite and Wilkin Chapman – have been named as regional heavyweights in the 2013 rankings.
Browne Jacobson 'stacked up very well against the competition' and was widely regarded as one of the leading firms in the region, the Legal 500 noted.
The top regional heavyweight in the East is strong across the board and is particularly noted for its dedicated public sector offering and for its strength on the corporate side.
Freeths sits alone in the second tier and has experienced steady and impressive growth over the past few years. It continues to expand beyond its origins in the East Midlands and now numbers 11 offices across the UK.
Eversheds – in the third tier with four other firms – is the only national and international firm operating in the East Midlands. Its Nottingham office is particularly strong in major corporate law and IP/IT matters.
Gateley has particular strength in corporate law and IP; Geldards is known for its ability to turn things round on "very tight timescales"; Shakespeares continues apace in its plan to be a heavyweight firm with a £50m turnover; and Shoosmiths stands out for its major corporate, property and employment work in Nottingham and professional negligence and debt recovery in Northampton.
In the final tier of heavyweights, Derby-based Flint Bishop is well known for its contentious work and has one of the top licensing practices in the region. Howes Percival fields respected teams across the gamut of practice areas, and is home to strong IP, family and property departments.
Clients of Nelsons praise the firm's partner-led service. Spearing Waite continues its ascent in the corporate and litigation spheres and maintains a strong property presence. Wilkin Chapman has a wide-ranging practice and is highly ranked for debt recovery, family and agriculture.
Other firms of note in the East Midlands include Actons; Chattertons; Fraser Brown; Hewitsons; Langleys Solicitors; Rothera Dowson; Smith Partnership; and Weightmans.