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Our South East chapter is broken down into the following sub-regions: Thames Valley, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, M4/M40; Kent, Surrey, Sussex; Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middlesex; Hampshire; and Essex. The geographical boundary extends to Hampshire in the south – with Winchester and Southampton acting as the key commercial hubs – up to Milton Keynes in the north, towards the Kent and Essex coastline in the east and then across to Newbury in West Berkshire. Coverage of the South East is either by region-wide practice areas or is narrowed down into the respective sub-regions.

Firms in the Thames Valley tend to be clustered in either Oxford or Reading, with Penningtons Manches LLP straddling both locations. Widely regarded for its expertise in the charities and education sector, the firm further cemented its reputation in its core areas with the hire of Alison Talbot in early 2016. Blake Morgan LLP, Shoosmiths LLP and Osborne Clarke dominate the region’s commercial work and frequently attract high-profile instructions for a broad client base. Pitmans LLP is a key name for financing, with an impressive portfolio of lending clients. Reading-based Boyes Turner, Blandy & Blandy LLP and Field Seymour Parkes LLP also have strong reputations. The closure of Watford-based Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP in early 2016 swiftly followed on the back of the announcement that its highly regarded banking and finance litigation team, some 75-strong, would be joining Dentons. Further change followed, with the arrival of South West powerhouse Veale Wasbrough Vizards in Watford through the acquisition of a substantial part of the legacy firm’s business.

EMW Law LLP remains a key name in Milton Keynes and is frequently seen on the sell-side of transactions for its key owner-managed business clients. IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) benefits from its presence close to Heathrow and routinely acts for major multinationals with a UK site in the locale, while maintaining its considerable reputation in the real estate sector. Buckinghamshire-based B P Collins LLP continues to win praise for its dispute resolution expertise and notable experience in the waste management sector. SA Law LLP, Sherrards Solicitors LLP and Freeths are other names to note in the Beds, Bucks, Herts and Middlesex region.

In the Kent, Surrey and Sussex coverage, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, Clyde & Co LLP and Stevens & Bolton LLP dominate Surrey’s commercial practices, with the latter firm’s single-site approach routinely attracting work from national and international clients. Cripps LLP is the key firm in Kent for commercial and corporate work, with new arrival Justin Cumberlege strengthening its capability in the healthcare sector. Cobham-based Mundays LLP signalled its intent to further develop its London presence when, in July 2015, it opened its second office in the capital, which will initially be staffed with property specialists. 2015 was also a busy year for DMH Stallard LLP, with the firm completing two mergers at both ends of the calendar year: the first with Guildford-based AWB Partnership, effective from January, before its merger with longstanding London firm Ross & Craig Solicitors, which took effect in December 2015. asb law LLP, a key name for banking and finance, services clients from its offices in Crawley, Sussex and Maidstone and is prominent in the region.

In Hampshire, the recent merger between Thomas Eggar LLP and Irwin Mitchell, announced in November 2015, unites two firms with substantial private client offerings. Shoosmiths LLP and Blake Morgan LLP have all-round expertise and remain significant players in the region. Bond Dickinson LLP is a market leader in commercial litigation, property and corporate work, while Paris Smith LLP continues to be a leading name for private client work.

Birketts LLP and Birkett Long LLP remain the standout names in Essex, with the former frequently dovetailing with its East Anglia-based team and the latter working across its three offices in Essex. Other notable firms include Ellisons Solicitors, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP and Tees Law.

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