DWF to merge with niche insurance practice Watmores

Top legal business DWF has announced that it has signed terms to merge with market leading niche insurance practice Watmores.

The merger, which is expected to complete in May 2015, will support the firm’s planned national and international growth strategies by strengthening DWF’s insurance, rail and local authority sector capabilities, deepening relations with the firms’ shared insurance clients and growing DWF’s client base of rail operators and local authorities. The move also supports DWF’s strategic growth plans in London and nationally. It is expected that through its merger with Watmores, DWF will become one of the UK’s largest law firms for local authority work.

Through the merger, Watmores will benefit from DWF’s deep and broad insurance and commercial offerings, as well as its scale and infrastructure, and innovative approach to client service delivery which has been facilitated by a £12million investment in technology.

Led by partners Simon Johnson and Ron Mullins, Watmores is a circa £2.5million turnover limited company with a strong reputation for delivering dispute resolution and litigation insurance services to a longstanding insurer client base which includes many of the UK’s major insurers, as well as a significant number of local authorities and rail operators. Based on Chancery Lane, the firm employs 26 people including five partners and directors, all of whom will move into DWF’s office space in the landmark Walkie Talkie building in the heart of the City.

DWF is already recognised as one of the top three law firms in the UK for insurance work with an almost 1000-strong team advising insurers across the full breadth of insurance law matters, ranging from large and complex insurance cases around the world to high-volume defendant work. The top 20 legal business is an established panel firm for many of the UK's leading insurers.

As well as adding specialist depth to DWF’s insurance offering, the merger will strengthen the firm’s industry sector focus, specifically in transport where DWF has a strong focus on rail, developed through its merger with Biggart Baillie in 2012 and further bolstered by additional lateral hires. The 10 partner-strong rail team advises train operating companies on the full range of rail industry issues including developments, franchises, infrastructure, operations through to employers’ and public liability and personal injury.

DWF’s public sector capability will also be enhanced through the merger with Watmores, which acts for 13 of the 32 local authorities based in London, whilst DWF’s national multi-disciplinary local government team acts for over 40 local authorities and their insurers nationally providing the full spectrum of commercial and insurance law advice. The firm also has a leading public procurement practice acting for large public sector clients.

DWF’s Managing Partner & CEO, Andrew Leaitherland, says, “Watmores has first-rate niche expertise which complements, and will add depth to, our own enabling us to deliver enhanced service to our existing clients and also to grow our client base of insurers, local authorities and rail operators.”

Partner Simon Johnson from Watmores adds “Combining forces with DWF will enable us to capitalise on the firm’s infrastructure, tech capability and reach to strengthen our shared focus and capability in key industry sectors for the benefit of our clients, a significant number of whom we have in common.”

As part of its national and international growth strategies DWF is investing heavily in building its reputation in London, broadening and deepening its commercial and insurance offerings and strengthening the firm’s focus on its chosen industry sectors. The firm has made a number of significant partner hires over the last few months and in March the firm opened an office in Dubai to support clients across the construction, energy, insurance and transport sectors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

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Andrew Leaitherland

Partner - Managing Partner & CEO

I am the person responsible for bringing the great ideas of our people to life.

Paul Berry

Partner - CEO of Insurance Services

I am the CEO of Insurance Services at DWF.