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Manchester is at the forefront of commercial activity in the North West and the city remains an attractive location to do business. Its broad industrial base, growing tech sector and government investment in schemes such as the Northern Powerhouse means that Manchester is at the forefront of growth in the region.

The June 2016 referendum may have caused a slight blip in deal-making, but law firms report that the trend for business in the region hasn’t weakened as a result. Firms remain cautiously optimistic as to the future and look forward to more certainty once the full implications of Brexit are fully understood.

New entrants into the Manchester legal market means there is an intense competition for clients, and for retaining staff. In recent years firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP have set up offices in the city to serve as a back office function, taking advantage of the lower cost bases, and the high-quality talent pool offered by the city. Shakespeare Martineau LLP is the latest law firm to announce its move into Manchester, hiring real estate partner Stephen Chalcraft from Slater and Gordon. The presence of accountancy firms in the city also drives up competition for recruitment, as the accountancy firms continue to bolster their legal practices. Allied to this is the continued growth of virtual law firms, which offer a more flexible working model. In another key development, Nabarro LLP completed a three-way merger with Olswang LLP and CMS.

Although it is a much smaller legal market, Liverpool is a key legal hub in the region. Projects, property and public sector deals are a key driver of many practices, and with the promise of further investment under the Northern Powerhouse initiative, this trend is set to continue.

Elsewhere in the North West, Chester is a centre for high-net-worth clients, while firms in Bolton and Preston handle a range of deals for SMEs, public-sector entities and owner-managed businesses.

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