Halliwells carve-up completes

The Manchester real estate team of collapsed law firm Halliwells is among the departments bought by Birmingham-based HBJ Gateley Wareing.

HBJ Wareing will rebrand the Halliwells office in Spinningfields, taking on 300 staff in employment, intellectual property, construction, corporate, pensions and corporate recovery.

The Liverpool office of Halliwells, including the property and construction team, has been bought by Hill Dickinson. The deal means 89 staff including 19 partners will move from The Plaza next door to St Paul's Square.

The deal will bring Hill Dickinson's headcount to over 1,000 in the North West with a forecast fee income of £105m.

Hill Dickinson has also taken on 36 staff at Halliwells' Sheffield practice, marking its first move into Yorkshire. In Sheffield, Hill Dickinson will acquire health, corporate, commercial litigation and property practice groups.

Peter Jackson, managing partner of Hill Dickinson, said: "We can confirm that we have now reached a successful agreement with Halliwells to acquire its Liverpool and Sheffield offices. We feel strongly that both the businesses are highly complementary in terms of client base and skill set. There are many highly talented lawyers within the Halliwells' teams, which are one of the leading commercial practices in their respective cities, and they will fit well into the client-focused service we offer here at Hill Dickinson.

"We have continued to look at strategic acquisitions to develop our business and complement our existing strengths. This opportunity provided a perfect match and enables us to work with first class and established teams in Liverpool and Sheffield."

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, based in Chancery Place, has purchased Halliwells' 150-strong Manchester insurance practice.

The central services teams in Manchester will need to be separated between Barlows and HBJ Gateley.

Michael Ward, joint senior partner at HBJ, said: "We are delighted to welcome the Halliwells commercial team in Manchester into our firm and believe that they will be a significant addition to HBJ Gateley Wareing.

"We have recognised for some time that there was an opportunity to develop our business in the North West.

Jonathan Brown, managing partner of Halliwells, will join Hill Dickinson. He said: "This outcome is by far the best possible solution for Halliwells' Liverpool and Sheffield clients and staff. Our legal and support teams are delighted to be joining a quality law firm with a leading reputation in the profession. We have the utmost confidence in joining forces with Hill Dickinson, which is renowned for its strong leadership and clear business strategy. It has demonstrated continued stability and growth, and is this year celebrating its 200th anniversary. We have no doubt that the firm's culture, client base, specialisms and locations will provide a huge benefit to Halliwells' clients and staff going forward. We are very excited about the future and look forward to joining the Hill Dickinson team."

Halliwells' collapse has been blamed largely on the debt incurred by its move into Spinningfields. Equity partners at the company took the three-year rent-free incentive in the form of a £17m cash payment and then borrowed heavily to fit-out the large office.

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