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The large commercial law firms in Wales are located along the M4 corridor, from Newport in the east to Swansea in the west, with Cardiff the commercial hub. Due to poor transport links, Cardiff is often not convenient for clients in mid and north Wales; clients unable to source help from local firms in these areas tend to instruct firms in England. With over a quarter of Wales’ workforce employed in the public sector, its impact is felt in much of the legal work carried out in the region. The inception of an All-Wales Solicitors’ Panel, covering the whole of the Welsh public sector and conducted by the National Procurement Service (NPS), a Welsh Government Sponsored Agency, is likely to have a significant impact going forward. Over 70 organisations in Wales (including NHS Wales and the Welsh government) are members of the NPS and committed to buying through this framework. Therefore failure to achieve significant panel appointments to its various lots of work – which include discrete areas such as civil litigation, employment and major IT and commercial contracts – is likely to have a significant detrimental effect on law firms in the country relying on public sector mandates.

The legal market is heavily saturated in Cardiff although this is hardly surprising as it is the centre of commercial activity in the country. While the majority of law firms situated in Wales are local entities, a number of English firms including Clarke Willmott LLP and Lewis Silkin LLP have recently established offices in the capital. While these cannot be said to herald a similar trend of ‘North Shoring’ (whereby City firms have migrated to the north of England to take advantage of costs benefit), it is certainly something that is being actively pushed by both the government and sections of the business community.

In keeping with the firm’s overall national and global scope, Eversheds LLP’s workflow combines a significant amount of local work with instructions from England and internationally, where it can offer considerable cost benefits to clients. The firm is active across the spectrum of business transactions and has significant areas of sector focus including energy and education. The Cardiff office also houses the firm’s nationally renowned inquiries and investigations group.

Recently relocating to the plush Central Square redevelopment in the centre of Cardiff, Blake Morgan LLP has deeply entrenched relationships with local companies and the public sector, as well as also benefiting from an extended and enhanced reach following its merger with Blake Lapthorn in 2014.

Capital Law LLP continues to make waves in the market, particularly as a result of its entrepreneurial and innovative approach, which has seen it become the first law firm to launch its own litigation fund.

Geldards LLP is a mainstay of the market and is known in particular for its public sector strength, a fact that was recently underscored by its appointment to seven different lots (including planning and environment and higher education) on the NPS’ All-Wales Solicitors’ panel.

The largest indigenous law firm in Wales, Hugh James is well thought of in the market across the full spread of practice areas in an advisory and litigious setting. Truly full-service in its approach, with notable expertise for corporate and banking, the firm also has a market-leading claimant practice for both personal injury and clinical negligence, as well as a pre-eminent wealth management department.

Acuity Legal Limited is gaining traction in the market and is seen by many as a safe pair of hands on transactional work and a viable alternative to some of the country’s more established firms. Its partner-led approach is particularly suited to complex and often innovative mandates and the firm features highly in transactional areas including corporate and commercial, real estate and projects.

Chester lawyers are pivotal to the north and mid-Wales market. Particular names to note include Aaron & Partners LLP’s David Harries, who has expertise in renewable energy; Knights Professional Services Limited’s Richard Williams for agricultural work; and property specialist Andrew Foley Jones at Mackenzie Jones Solicitors’. At Hillyer McKeown, Justine Watkinson and Lindsey Kidd are recommended for employment law. Lanyon Bowdler specialises in agricultural work for mid-Wales, with Brian Evans in Shrewsbury and Emma Wilde in Oswestry the key contacts.

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