DWF expansion continues as firm seals Scots merger with Biggart Baillie

DWF is to merge with Scottish firm Biggart Baillie later this summer, the firms confirmed today (7 June).

The deal, which will go live on 1 July, comes after DWF called off merger talks with Manchester firm Cobbetts in January and marks the northwest firm’s third merger in little more than six months.

These include a tie-up with Birmingham insurance boutique Buller Jeffries in April, and a deal with Newcastle insurance firm Crutes in late 2011.

The union with Biggart Baillie adds offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow to DWF’s existing UK presence, with the Scottish firm currently counting around 40 partners across the two offices. No redundancies are expected to result from the tie-up

The combined firm, which will have revenues of around £120m, will be known as DWF Biggart Baillie in the Scottish market and DWF elsewhere.

According to the firms the duo share a focus on practices including real estate, retail and energy & infrastructure.

DWF managing partner Andrew Leaitherland (pictured), who will be managing partner of the combined firm, said: “We have ambitious growth plans and are always looking for ways to enhance our offering for clients and strengthen our UK-wide presence. Similarly, Biggart Baillie was keen to continue to expand and provide increased services for its growing client base outside of Scotland.

“For a merger like this to truly succeed, it’s essential that you link with like-minded businesses, and Biggart Baillie’s values driven approach and commitment to growth is a perfect fit with DWF.”

Biggart Baillie managing partner Alasdair Peacock, who is taking on the role of Scotland executive partner at the new firm, commented: “Competition is fierce and this merger will enhance our ability to continue to compete at the top end of the market on quality and sector expertise. The cultural fit is strong and our clients operating in Scotland and England will benefit from increased strength in depth, and also geographical coverage.”

Earlier this month DWF announced a 23% increase in revenues in 2011-12, taking turnover to £102m. The firm has more than 1,500 people in Birmingham, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Preston and Teesside.

Biggart Baillie reported 2010-11 turnover of £16.2m, alongside PEP of £169,000.

DWF’s latest merger comes in the wake of a string of tie-ups between English and Scottish law firms in recent months. Pinsent Masons’ merger with Scots firm McGrigors went live on 1 May, creating a 15-office firm with a turnover of around £300m.

Meanwhile, insurance specialist DAC Beachcroft inked a joint venture with Glasgow and Edinburgh boutique Andersons Solicitors in March, adding 11 partners and 40 fee-earners, while Bristol’s TLT is due to merge with Scottish litigation specialist Anderson Fyfe on 1 July, gifting TLT offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh, eight partners and around £3m in additional revenues.

For more, see DWF confirms third consecutive year of double-digit growth with 23% hike.