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This chapter covers three key markets in the North: Newcastle, which stands as the primary economic and commercial market in the region; Cumbria, with Carlisle as the key legal centre; and the Tees Valley, which primarily focuses on Stockton on Tees, Darlington and Durham.

Commercial property work remains prominent in the region, with many areas of Newcastle and the surrounding cities seeing substantial development projects, which in turn are resulting in significant mandates for law firms. On the corporate and commercial side, the regional SME market remains active and buoyant thanks to increased funding and a renewed faith in the region’s prospects despite a minor slowdown in the number of transactions in the months following the Brexit vote. Private client work also continues to be a key component of most firms’ workload thanks to the prevalence of the agricultural sector in the region. The level of contentious probate work continues to increase, as does inheritance tax planning work and work arising from trusts and farming matters, with particular emphasis on farming partnerships and inheritance succession. The market has also settled following the changes to legal aid in 2013.

While generally a fairly stable market, there have been some notable developments. Debt recovery specialist Aberdein Considine established its first non-Scotland office in Newcastle, while Slater and Gordon closed its Newcastle office in late 2016. The region also continues to experience a dearth of junior-level practitioners, with many firms actively recruiting but struggling to find quality individuals to fill out the more junior ranks of practices across the board.

In Newcastle, national firms Bond Dickinson LLP, Ward Hadaway, Muckle LLP and Sintons LLP have prominent profiles in Newcastle and handle matters for regional and national clients. Hay & Kilner, Watson Burton LLP and Mincoffs Solicitors LLP round out the remaining key names in the region.

Key firms elsewhere in the North include Baines Wilson LLP, Burnetts and Cartmell Shepherd in Carlisle; and Archers Law LLP and Endeavour Partnership LLP in Stockton on Tees. Durham-based firm Swinburne Maddison is strengthening its position in the North.

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