The Legal 500

United Kingdom > East Midlands > Regional review

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The East Midlands takes in large cities such as Nottingham and Leicester, which are now approximately equal in terms of economic output, and smaller business centres such as Northampton, Derby, and Lincoln.

In line with the economic recovery across the UK, East Midlands firms have continued to report an increase in instructions, and the gradual, but cautious, return of bank lending in addition to alternative investment. Commercial property work, so recently in the doldrums, is enjoying a resurgence, and instructions focus on the development of retail parks and transactions in the health and care home sectors. Business, legally and economically, in the East Midlands is predominantly centred in Nottingham, Leicester and Derby, with firms also successfully competing for work from Lincoln and Northampton. The workload remains diverse, and agricultural matters continue to feature prominently in firms’ workload alongside more commercial instructions. Derby continues to be something of a hotbed for technology and start-up clients, and benefits from the presence of major engineering corporates.

The East Midlands has a diverse market, and the rankings include both national players and those with historical roots in the region.

Browne Jacobson LLP maintains its pre-eminent position in the region, and has particular expertise across the public and retail sectors. It is a founding member of Pangea Net, and through this provides an international offering to clients.

Freeths has its origins in the East Midlands, but now services clients nationally through its 11 offices. The firm, an ABS, rebranded in November 2014 from Freeth Cartwright.

Eversheds LLP works closely with its national and international network to service an impressive list of clients. It continues to have a strong dispute resolution practice, and is also notable for its commercial litigation and insolvency capabilities.

Gateley Plc has a strong presence in the Midlands as a whole, and has invested heavily in its Nottingham and Leicester offices. It frequently interacts with the local business community, and its Leicester office has close links with Leicestershire Business Voice.

Geldards LLP boosted its presence in the market by merging with legacy firm Robinsons Solicitors in November 2014; this has enhanced its private client offering and ability to service charities and third-sector clients.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP, a result of the June 2015 merger between legacy firms Shakespeares and SGH Martineau, has been forced to find a balance between its much-publicised acquisition programme and offsetting the departure of several key individuals in the East Midlands team. The firm has relocated partners from its Birmingham office to both Leicester and Nottingham.

Shoosmiths LLP is undergoing a degree of consolidation following its high-profile acquisition drive in recent years, which saw the firm expand its geographical coverage to Scotland, and was particularly significant for its retail and developer clients. It continues to service a national client base from its East Midlands offices.

Flint Bishop LLP continues to be highly regarded for its contentious offering, and has a growing profile for its debt recovery work.

Though Howes Percival LLP has continued with its geographic expansion nationally and commitment to opening new offices in high-growth areas, it has further consolidated its position in the East Midlands with several key arrivals. Most notable are insolvency specialist Carl Mifflin, and health and safety expert Alan Millband, who both joined from legacy firm Shakespeares.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited has a strong focus on the SME sector in the region, and acts for clients from its offices in Nottingham, Leicester and Derby.

Leicester-based Spearing Waite LLP continues to enjoy an ‘excellent’ reputation in the region, and is highly regarded for its commercial property expertise.

Wilkin Chapman LLP continues to represent clients across the board, and has notable agricultural and military expertise.

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