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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. 2015 saw a number of movements among the firms across the region. Maitland Walker LLP’s Cheltenham office closed in 2015, with dispute resolution specialist Rupert Croft establishing Croft Solicitors and commercial partners Nick Rowe and Steve Thomas joining Lodders Solicitors LLP. Trowers & Hamlins LLP merged with Devon-based law firm Stones Solicitors in October 2015; in the same month, Dorset firm Dickinson Manser LLP merged with Trethowans LLP. Bournemouth-based firm Horsey Lightly Flynn merged with Laceys Solicitors incorporating HLF in December 2015.

Bristol is commonly considered the legal hub of the South West. The majority of Bristol-based law firms handle work nationally as well as deals within the region, and have similarly strong reputations across the UK to boot: Burges Salmon LLPhands-down beats the offerings of the big City firms’, according to many of its clients, and has appointed five new partners across key growth areas including real estate, environment, pensions and banking; and Osborne Clarke is ‘a real Premier League outfit’, with particular strength in corporate and commercial, energy and litigation. TLT continues to be a key regional player, with a national reputation for financial services litigation. Other national firms with strong regional offerings include ‘public-sector powerhouseBevan Brittan LLP; Bond Dickinson LLP, which is known for its energy expertise and for its FTSE 250 client base; and DAC Beachcroft LLP, which is ‘an excellent insurance and healthcare outfit’. Veale Wasbrough Vizards is a key name in the education and charity space. Clarke Willmott LLP is recommended for real estate, commercial litigation and private client work. Thrings LLP handles a wide range of matters.

West Country based firms Ashfords LLP, Foot Anstey and Michelmores LLP continued to strengthen their Bristol offerings. Also based in the West Country, Stephens Scown LLP is well regarded in the IT, telecoms and mining and mineral sectors, and has a growing real estate practice.

Elsewhere in the region, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP regularly handles big-ticket corporate, banking and real estate transactions; Withy King LLP stands out for its private client and commercial property expertise; and Lester Aldridge LLP has notable experience in disputes in the marine, defence and financial sectors, and acts for a wide range of regional SMEs.

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