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The merged English firm of Hammond Suddards and Edge Ellison is embarking on a recruitment campaign to significantly increase its number of partners and European offices. Chris Jones, Hammonds’ managing partner, says the merger on August 1 to form Hammond Suddards Edge will transform his firm into one with a “major presence” in the big cities. He says there will be a “significant increase” in the number of partners, especially in corporate finance and property, but refused to put a figure on it. The firm is also planning to open offices in Germany, France and Italy, to add to Hammonds’ existing office in Brussels. “We want to boost our City [downtown London] offices to give ourselves a credible presence,” he told Law.com/uk. “We were concerned we were not big enough, and needed more depth in terms of our resources. We were not a major presence in the big cities,” he said, “With the merger, we now have a platform to keep going not least in our international corporate and property work.” He went on to say that “Corporate finance is our key area and will offer strength and depth. Recruitment will be on-going in this department for some time to come. The merger will also develop our property department and we will be looking abroad to expand.” Mark Newcombe, Edge Ellison’s head of property, says the merger follows expansion in international property work, and will bolster its regional network. He has been interviewing partners from other firms over the last few days. Chris Marks, head of property at Hammonds, points out that the merged firm will have one of the biggest property departments in Britain, with 25 partners and 125 lawyers, and increase its number of foreign clients. Mike Henley, head of Hammond’s Leeds office, says the merger will lead to an aggressive recruitment campaign. “We consider ourselves to be the top firm in Yorkshire and the merger will reinforce our position as clients see the growth of our connections in the City [downtown London],” he said. However, a senior source at a rival top law firm says the merger is a last-ditch stand as the two firms struggle to survive. “Edge Ellison was just going nowhere, without direction or profitability, while Hammond’s London offices have become unstable,” he said. “They will have to make big changes. We have had a good long look at Edge Ellison, and its Leicester offices are not long for this world, and there is a lot of dead wood in Birmingham.” He went on to say that “it’s good news from our point of view. Two firms coming together are always going to have problems. They are going to have to invest a lot of time and energy into sorting that out.” Robert Pay, managing director at legal business consultants, Jaffe Associates, says there may be “partner fall-out” from the two firms. “The key thing is who goes — the important thing is to keep quality people,” he said.

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