Weightmans in talks with Ward Hadaway to create top 40 UK firm

John Scorah Weightmans

UK top 50 firm Weightmans is in merger talks with Newcastle-headquartered Ward Hadaway.

The proposed deal could create a firm that sits just outside the UK top 30 by revenue, with combined turnover of around £130m.

National firm Weightmans posted revenue of £95m in 2015-16, compared with £35.8m at Ward Hadaway.

Weightmans, which has traditionally focused on insurance, has offices in Birmingham, Dartford, Glasgow, Knutsford, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London and Manchester. The firm has 180 partners and more than 1,400 staff.

Ward Hadaway employs 450 staff and has more than 80 partners working out of offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.

The firms issued a joint statement about the merger talks. It stated:  “The legal market is changing and it is always sensible to look at opportunities that might benefit a business, its clients and its staff, so Weightmans and Ward Hadaway are currently talking to each other to see if there are benefits of working closer together.

“We have shared strategic objectives and a significant number of shared clients. Whether or not these discussions will lead to anything permanent is, at the moment, unknown but we are enjoying getting to know each other better, sharing ideas and the discussions will be a benefit to our businesses, our clients and our staff even if nothing permanent comes of [them].”

Weightmans merged with Leeds firm Ford & Warren in July 2015. That move gave the firm its first office in Leeds. As a result of this merger, its revenue hit a record £95m in 2015-16, however its profit per equity partner fell by 19% from £308,000 to £248,000.

Weightmans managing partner John Schorah [pictured] and senior partner Dan Cutts were elected to serve a second three-year term, starting in spring 2016.