Gardner law firm is regional leader

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The Independent Online
GROWING evidence of the encroachment of regional law firms on the patch of City practices is contained in a survey published today.

Dibb Lupton Broomhead, the Yorkshire-based firm that surprised the City by being appointed legal adviser to the Gardner Merchant management buyout from Forte completed this week, is Britain's leading regional law practice, according to the latest issue of Legal Business magazine.

The firm, which has a long history in the North but has had a London office only since 1987, achieved gross fees of pounds 28.8m in 1991-92, the report says. Profits per partner amounted to pounds 166,000.

Further evidence of the trend that is making some regional firms the envy of smaller City practices came last year, when the Yorkshire firm Hammond Suddards, second in the table with earnings of pounds 20.1m and profits per partner of pounds 163,000, gained much of ICI's litigation work.

The survey shows that the top regional firms have - like their London counterparts - maintained fee income in the face of recession. Many have remained profitable by improving management and marketing.

However, John Pritchard, the magazine's editor-in-chief, said the varied state of the regional economies meant that 'lawyers get richer the further north you go'. He said the survey made a nonsense of the Law Society's view that all UK solicitors were members of one profession. 'There are two; the haves and the have-nots.'