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Yorkshire is home to some of the biggest names in the legal profession – and competition is fierce, writes Chris Titley
Yorkshire leads the way in the legal sector outside London. The epicentre is undoubtedly Leeds, home to some of the most acclaimed and successful law firms in the country.
According to legal graduates magazine Lawyer 2B, there are now around 8,000 people employed in 180 law firms based in the city, from global practices employing hundreds of legal professionals to small practices specialising in niche areas of law.
Sheffield too has a large and expanding legal market, with Kennedys and Hill Dickinson opening offices in the city in recent years. York and Hull also have a strong legal sector with a good mix of firms.
One reason for this accumulation of talent in our region is that the profession thrives on competition. And two lists are eagerly devoured by legal eagles keen to see whos up and whos down: The Lawyers UK 200, a league table which ranks firms in order of turnover; and The Legal 500, which boasts it provides the definitive judgement of law firm capabilities across the globe.
Every autumn The Legal 500 names Yorkshires regional heavyweights, dominated by the so-called Big Six, all of which have offices in Leeds: Addleshaw Goddard, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Squire Sanders and Walker Morris.
Renowned for its expertise in the financial, property and retail sectors Addleshaw Goddard boasts an impressive array of blue-chip and public sector clients, including advising lenders on a 750m private finance initiative to construct a green energy project on behalf of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham councils.
Addleshaw Goddards fee income for the year to April 30th was 170 million, a five per cent increase on the previous year.
DLA Piper is the only one of the Big Six to have offices in Sheffield as well as Leeds. Placed fifth in the UK 200 2011, with a turnover of 604 million, its global reach ensures it is a go-to firm for Yorkshire businesses with international ambitions.
In June, Leeds office managing partner Sarah Day hailed the previous financial year as the best in recent history.
A truly international firm, Eversheds is also a big player closer to home. Recently it advised Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund Global in their 30 million-plus acquisition of the landmark Princes Exchange office block in Leeds the biggest deal of its kind this year.
The Legal 500 describes Pinsent Masons as a trusted adviser to household names such as Asda. It has a strong background in mergers and acquisitions.
Squire Sanders Leeds office serves about a quarter of the public companies headquartered in Yorkshire and the North East. Among its specialisms are banking and finance, business recovery and insolvency, and dispute resolution. One of its newest clients is Greggs Bakery, which it will advise on employment issues.
Finally, Walker Morris is renowned for its corporate work. This summer the corporate team advised Leeds-based convenience food manufacturer Symingtons Ltd on its management buy-out.
Outside the coveted half-dozen, other firms making notable progress are Irwin Mitchell, DAC Beachcroft, Dickinson Dees, Nabarro and Gordons.