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Manchester legal market 'undergoing changes'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 19/02/14

They do things differently in Manchester. Well, slightly differently, anyway. Or, well, maybe they don't do anything differently, but you need to cling to something when you're mostly famous for an inclement climate and a contrarian vegan pop singer.

The legal market in the unofficial capital of the north doesn't really do anything unusual, either, until recently powering along as one of the strongest regional markets in England while not gaining the international recognition of its London counterparts.

However, recent events have seen the sector undergo a major seachange, reports the Law Gazette.

Linder Myers last week became the latest to turn to administration, joining Cobbetts and Halliwells as victims of the ongoing economic tumult.

Paul Jonson, who is set to become managing partner of newly formed Pannone Corporate after Slater & Gordon acquired the Manchester firm, accepted the losses have been difficult but suggested there is more market buoyancy than a simple glance might suggest.

"There is a lot to be positive about Manchester’s legal profession - Manchester is on most measures the leading commercial and cultural centre outside London and the south-east," he chip-on-shouldered.

"The success of Manchester as a city region encouraged our local firms to expand and some of those expansion plans became impossible to sustain with the recession," added Mr Jonson.

Over-expansion has been the major problem for many legal service providers in the north-west, although it is fair to say that this is a national issue rather than one confined to the rainy streets of Manchester.

Legal firms have endured a number of setbacks in recent years following the heady pre-recession move towards growth into new markets. However, lawyers in Manchester were keen to emphasise the strong points of the city.

Michael Clavell-Bate, senior office partner for Eversheds in Manchester, said the region is increasingly attracting interest from international brands and major global corporations.

"This offers a number of opportunities for the legal community, for firms that can offer specialist legal advice to Manchester-based businesses and respond to the region’s growing ambition to establish its position on the world stage," he concluded.