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The epicentre of the Yorkshire market, Leeds holds the unofficial title for the UK’s second city for legal services and several national firms have a presence in the city. Sheffield remains a manufacturing hub, while Hull enjoyed an economic boost as a result of its winning bid for the City of Culture 2017. Firms based in Harrogate, York and Bradford are popular options for SME clients. One notable trend has been the continued uptick in work generated from the property sector, with firms increasingly active in development matters, real estate financing and acquisitions, and construction work. There has also been a notable resurgence in mainstream M&A and private equity work. On a less positive note, the restructuring and insolvency market remains quiet, as does the banking market for debt transactions. Firms’ energy teams have been kept busy handling the refinancing of existing renewables projects, which has helped to off-set the drop-off in work pertaining to onshore wind farms resulting from cuts to subsidies and issues with planning consents.

The Big Six’ firms, comprising of Addleshaw Goddard, DLA Piper UK LLP, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, Pinsent Masons LLP, Squire Patton Boggs and Walker Morris LLP, remain unchanged. Other firms to note include CMS, which entered the market following its merger with Nabarro LLP in May 2017 and Gateley Plc, which continues to make strides in the market to become a full-service offering in Leeds.

Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield and Leeds offices saw several departures, including the Leeds-based corporate team joining new entrants Shoosmiths LLP and corporate dealmaker Matt Ainsworth joining HLW Keeble Hawson’s Sheffield office. DWF and Gordons LLP also lost several team members.

Many Leeds-based firms draw on national and international networks, and partners tend to split their time between Leeds and firms’ other regional offices.

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