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Manchester continues to be the main hub of commercial activity in the region, with heavy investment, particularly in regeneration projects, transport, real estate and the tech sector; and with a continued buzz under the Northern Powerhouse initiative, it is an attractive place to do business. As ever, there has been a raft of activity in the increasingly competitive legal sector, with a number of lateral moves. Notably, Addleshaw Goddard has poached six real estate partners from Irwin Mitchell; and has also taken an eight-strong construction team from DWF. Mills & Reeve LLP has bolstered its real estate offering with the hire of Mike Edge and Rachel Pitman from Pinsent Masons LLP and Fieldfisher has taken banking partner Charlotte Round, sports and entertainment lawyer Simon Taylor, and former corporate head David Bowcock, from Brabners LLP. Elsewhere, BLM has significantly broadened its offering with the hire of a slew of partners from Slater and Gordon, including former national head of business legal services Stephen Lintott; real estate lawyers Tessa Leonard, Stephen Crook and Mark Alexander; IP specialist Steve Kuncewicz, employment practitioner Jim Lister, dispute resolution partners Nick Gee and Craig McAdam; construction and engineering lawyer Jahanara Hussain; and corporate and commercial lawyer Daniel Varney.

Liverpool has seen significant activity with the arrival of Freeths LLP, which opened an office in 2018 with the hire of real estate partners Andy Nichol and Luke Hopkins from DWF. JMW Solicitors LLP has also chosen Liverpool as a base for its new family team; David Pickering and his department from DWF have joined the Manchester-headquartered firm and will operate across its Manchester and new Liverpool offices, with Beverley Jones leading the Liverpool-based team. Elsewhere, Bolton-headquartered firm Keoghs LLP has increased its regional presence by taking Liverpool-headquartered firm, Hill Dickinson LLP’s insurance practice, which includes the hire of 17 partners.

Elsewhere in the region, firms outside Manchester are often utilised as an alternative to city practices. Chester is a centre for high-net-worth clients, while law firms in Bolton and Preston are regularly instructed by SMEs, public-sector entities and owner-managed businesses.

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