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South west firm Clarke Willmott & Clarke has pledged to massively boost its presence in the Bristol market by more than doubling its existing office space in the city.Clarkes this week announced that it was to shift its Bristol practice from the 26,000 square feet HQ in St James’ Court to a new flagship development in Bristol.The firm, which only took up its current offices 18 months ago, is aiming to move into the 68,000 sq ft development in St George’s Square by the end of the 2003 on a 20-year lease.The premises have attracted interest from a number of the city’s professional firms.Clarkes managing partner David Sedgwick told Legal Week that the 44-partner firm was planning a major recruitment drive ahead of the move, with the target of increasing Clarkes’ staff from 400 to 600 in the next 18 months.“It is a statement in steel, concrete and glass about how confident we are about our business,” he said. “As a firm we are dripping with ambition, and we think that now is the time to go for it.”The move represents a gamble for the firm, which has built up a strong reputation in recent years for sports, planning and general property work.Clarkes has made no secret of its desire to expand in Bristol, though the firm concedes that an attempt to challenge local leaders Osborne Clarke and Burges Salmon for corporate work was over-ambitious.

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