Northern Ireland practice merges with Manchester legal giant
One of Northern Ireland's best-known legal practices is being taken over by a major firm based in England.
C & H Jefferson, which is based at Queen Street in Belfast, is merging with larger English firm DWF.
The Northern Ireland practice is known for its work with major property development, retail and renewable energy clients.
It was established over 100 years ago, but will now become DWF's 12th UK office.
DWF is based in Manchester but also has offices in Dublin, Cologne, Munich, Dubai and Brussels.
All 82 employees at C & H Jefferson will join DWF's workforce of around 2,300 people as part of the merger, which takes effect on Thursday.
And C & H Jefferson partners Ken Rutherford, Gareth Jones, Scott McCarroll, Mark Tinman and Ian Stanfield will all join DWF as partners. David Lennon, a partner for over 20 years who specialises in defence litigation, becomes a consultant.
DWF works across the industrial, commercial, property and insurance markets in the UK.
C & H Jefferson specialises in the banking and finance sector and has advised major banks and financial institutions in Northern Ireland.
A spokesman said the merger will allow DWF to increase its commercial and insurance services. Ross Little, executive partner at DWF's Dublin office, said: "As a firm we are always looking at strategic opportunities for growth that will enhance our legal capability in key practice areas and allow us to offer our clients advantages in terms of resource, reach and multi-jurisdiction expertise.
"The legal market in Northern Ireland is vibrant and rapidly changing, and this merger makes us well-equipped to take advantage of the growing number of opportunities it presents in our target sectors."
C & H Jefferson managing partner Ken Rutherford added: "As our international client base has grown we have continued to explore how we can adapt in order to meet their changing needs.
"DWF is a very strong fit for us in terms of its culture and approach to legal services."
It's the second merger in the legal sector here in six weeks, after MKB merged with debt recovery specialists McAlinden Solicitors. DWF is the first firm from Great Britain to merge with a Northern Ireland practice since McGrigors bought L'Estrange and Brett in 2009. McGrigors was later taken over by Pinsent Masons, which has a large office in Belfast.