Belfast Telegraph

Law firm in discussions on possible merger with bigger rival

By Margaret Canning

A Scottish-owned law firm with an office in Belfast is being tipped to merge with a bigger rival, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Commercial partnership McGrigors, which took over Belfast firm L'Estrange and Brett, yesterday confirmed it is in talks with Pinsent Masons in London.

It's understood the Belfast office is set to survive any merger between the two.

If it goes ahead, it will be the second major upheaval in under three years for Belfast since the L'Estrange and Brett merger in 2009.

A joint statement confirmed the two firms had been in discussions "about ways in which both firms can work together".

"Both firms complement each other well, being leaders in the field of construction, energy and infrastructure," it said.

"A potential tie-up would greatly benefit the clients of both firms, providing a wealth of market-leading expertise across a number of sectors and practice areas.

"It would also provide a strong platform upon which to grow internationally, with a continued focus in Europe, the Gulf and Asia Pacific."

The partners are due to vote on the merger by February - but it is thought likely to be passed as bosses aim to create a UK top-12 firm with a turnover of more than £300m.

McGrigors has around 102 partners, while Pinsent Masons has 258.

Meanwhile, city law firm Herbert Smith has announced that another 18 lawyers will start work in its Belfast office at the end of this month.

Herbert Smith beat Allen -amp; Overy to become the first London-headquartered law firm to open a support operation in the city.

The office, which will now employ 56 people, was set up to carry out document review work for litigation, arbitration and regulatory investigations.

The partnership said its new starts meant its Belfast workforce had more than doubled since the office opened with 26 staff in April last year.

Libby Jackson, director of the Belfast office, said: "The great success of our office with clients across our international network is a credit to the high quality team of qualified lawyers and legal assistants we have recruited in Northern Ireland and the excellence of the legal work we are doing here."