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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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This chapter covers the South West of England, which in certain practice areas, has been further divided into Bristol, Dorset and South Wiltshire, M4 Corridor and Gloucestershire, and the West Country. After just a few short weeks of transactional uncertainty following the Brexit referendum’s shock outcome, practitioners have reported "business as usual" ever since. Corporates and individuals alike have shied away from litigation, with law firms capitalising on increasing use of ADR options. Finally, changes in government subsidies in the energy market have necessitated a shift toward nascent technologies such as battery storage and firms have been transitioning away from onshore solar and wind projects and have taken on more progressive renewable projects.

Bristol is widely considered the legal hub for the South West, with historically entrenched regional law firms such as Burges Salmon LLP and Osborne Clarke ‘proving that you don’t have to go to London for quality advice’. Other key regional players include TLT, Clarke Willmott LLP, which has become known in the surrounds for its ‘class-leading’ litigation outfit, and DAC Beachcroft LLP, which continues to be an insurance powerhouse in the region. Bevan Brittan LLP remains the pre-eminent public sector firm in the South West, while VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is one of the ‘leading firms’ in the charity and education sectors. Bond Dickinson LLP and Thrings LLP have also been strengthening their capabilities in the area, as has Foot Anstey, which is one of a handful of firms to establish an on-the-ground presence both in Bristol and The West Country.

Ashfords LLP and Michelmores LLP have built up strong, full-service offerings in Exeter, servicing clients on a regional and national level. They face strong competition form Stephens Scown LLP, which has taken a more regionally focussed approach. Trowers & Hamlins LLP continues to dominate the social housing market from its Exeter office.

The M4 corridor and Gloucestershire saw the most significant market development in 2016-2017, with the merger of Bath-based Withy King and Royds to form Royds Withy King. Farther north, in Cheltenham, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP maintains a steady stream of high-profile corporate and real estate work, while the local market is ably serviced by Willans LLP and BPE Solicitors LLP.

Steele Raymond LLP and Lester Aldridge LLP are among the firms seeking dominance in Bournemouth – the centre of gravity for the Dorset and South Wiltshire market – and Laceys Solicitors incorporating HLF has taken further steps towards internal consolidation following its merger with HLF in 2015.

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