Law firm Shakespeares has announced it is in merger discussions with Leicester-based Harvey Ingram in a move which would see it become the second largest law firm in the Midlands after Wragge & Co.
Detailed discussions are now underway with the aim of merging at the beginning of August this year as Shakespeares continues its rapid growth through a string of mergers.
The Harvey Ingram merger, if and when it goes ahead, would be Shakespeares’ fifth in five years.
In 2007 Shakespeares and Putsmans merged, followed in 2010 by mergers with Berryman in Nottingham and Needham & James in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds. In 2011 the firm merged with Solihull firm Wood Glaister and social housing firm Gorrara Haden. In June 2011 the firm came together as ‘Shakespeares’.
The deal would create the second biggest law firm spanning the East and West Midlands with a total of 815 employees and would see annual turnover of around £50 million, which would see the firm soar up the rankings of The Lawyer’s UK 200 Annual Report next year to secure a top 50 ranking - Shakespeares is currently 84th)
Harvey Ingram is a full-service, commercial law firm with offices in Leicester, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell and Bedford. Founded in 1767 it is led by managing partner Simon Astill.
Best known in its Leicestershire heartland it expanded in the home-counties and wider Midlands in January 2011 following a merger with Borneos.
The firm counts among its client base client large businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as private clients and also offers a personal injury claim service.
Shakespeares’ commercial director Hamish Munro said: “People shouldn’t under-estimate the size of the firm at the moment. With 455 lawyers and staff across four principal offices we’re already one of the largest law firms in Birmingham and the wider Midlands but this catapults us firmly into second place behind Wragges.
“We would have 815 lawyers and staff across the company’s operations and significantly enhance our East Midlands’ operation.”
Mr Monroe said he was delighted Shakespeares was looking to merge with a firm of the size of Harvey Ingram, which employs almost 360 people, and has such a strong heritage.
He added: “Harvey Ingram is close to its 250th anniversary and has been the established go to firm for large corporates, mid-sized businesses and private clients in the Leicestershire and Lincolnshire areas.”
Simon Astill, managing partner at Harvey Ingram, said: “I am delighted to be announcing the firm’s merger plans to our employees today. The move will open up a new world of opportunities for us all. Our merger with Shakespeares is very much a meeting of minds and I am confident that by coming together we will be creating a more compelling law firm to work with or be advised by.”
Mr Monroe said the merger would see Shakespeares fulfilling its ambitious growth target ahead of schedule and hinted at further growth.
“The firm set itself the clear ambition to be a £50 million law firm by the end of 2014.
“This merger makes us achieve that end and in our view our strength in depth across all the relevant legal services required by corporates, private clients and public sector organisations will make us a compelling as an option to London firms and other large firms in the Midlands
“Shakespeares will reflect once and if this merger is completed on its future strategy and will make decisions later about what the next stage of growth is going to be.”
Although Mr Monroe said it was too early to speculate on the merged firm’s name he added: “The Shakespeares name is an exceptionally well-known and respected name in the Midlands and international markets and I would expect it to continue to be so.”