Irwin Mitchell has made a serious move into the world of commercial and corporate law with the acquisition of the Birmingham branch of BPE Solicitors.
The move will see the ten fee-earners at BPE, including three partners, start work at Irwin Mitchell this Friday. The three new partners are Paul Wakefield (corporate, commercial and property), Andrew Taylor (corporate recovery and litigation) and Mark Elder (commercial litigation).
Stuart Henderson, the regional managing partner of Irwin Mitchell, said: “The exciting acquisition of these well-known and respected lawyers represents a considerable strengthening of the range of services we are able to offer to companies and other businesses during these challenging economic times and beyond. We are determined to use the opportunity to demonstrate that we are also a leading law practice in the provision of services to the business community in the Midlands and to gain clear recognition for that.
“Our strategy of investment in strategic growth in this important region is evidence of our commitment to offering the very best legal services to the business and private client communities we serve.”
The deal was finally signed after months of negotiation between the two law firms.
The move will be a homecoming for Mr Taylor, who previously worked for Irwin Mitchell. BPE will be withdrawing from Birmingham and concentrating on its presence in Gloucestershire.
None of the support staff at BPE’s offices on Bennetts Hill will be moving to Irwin Mitchell.
Fergal Dowling, partner and head of employment law at Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham, said: “We have a very systemised approach to our support. We wouldn’t necessarily have the need for some of the support staff. They have been part of a process of restructuring. Inevitably there was going to be one or two people who have been left out.”
Fergal Dowling added: “The considerable specialist expertise of these teams of lawyers will supplement and strengthen the existing HR, regulatory, environmental, health and safety and litigation services already offered by Irwin Mitchell in the Midlands’ region and beyond.
“In addition, their arrival enhances the national presence and capabilities of Irwin Mitchell, as I believe there will be an increase in the two-way exchange of expertise and referral of case work between our London offices and here in Birmingham.
“I also anticipate that their well-established network of connections within the West Midlands business community will allow us to further cross-sell what have been the core, traditional expertise and services of Irwin Mitchell in this region.”
“Some other law firms are downsizing their corporate capabilities, but we believe this is a good time to invest and build on our strengths in a key range of services for businesses during these uncertain economic times. This acquisition will help to ensure we are well positioned to assist clients in trading through the present difficulties and being prepared to take advantage of opportunities that will arise when the inevitable upturn occurs.
“I think Irwin Mitchell has always been looking for the right opportunities to grow its commercial services. We had a gap in the Midlands and we kept an eye on what the market was doing. We were aware of the fact that things will improve within the business community and we wanted to invest now at the right time in quality individuals and Birmingham-based lawyers.”
John Workman, the senior partner of BPE, said: “The acquisition is beneficial to all parties. Our strategy is to concentrate on driving and growing our practice from our Gloucestershire power base, while Irwin Mitchell is looking to extend its range of business services in Birmingham. I am pleased that the opportunity arose for both businesses to meet their strategic objectives via an efficient and amicable negotiation.”
Mr Henderson added: “I look forward to the contribution from the new partners and their teams here in Birmingham and to the continuing strong growth of the Irwin Mitchell practice.”
The new team is set to start work officially on May 1.