Leaders at full-service national law firm Shakespeare Martineau have set their sights on Southampton and the Central South as the next region in the firm’s ambitious growth strategy.

Having secured office space at the prestigious University of Southampton Science Park, recognised as the south of England’s innovation hub, the law firm has kick-started its expansion into the market with the appointment of leading corporate partner, James Hawkeswood, who joins the firm from Blake Morgan, where he was the national head of their corporate practice. The firm is looking to grow its team to double figures by the end of the year and has already confirmed two new partners, the first due to start in May specialising in commercial litigation and the second starting in June specialising in banking.

James, who will be spearheading local growth and acting as office head for Shakespeare Martineau in Southampton, has more than 25 years’ experience and specialises in corporate law; including M&A, joint ventures, private equity investments and complex cross-border transactions. James’ experience complements the existing sector specialisms within Shakespeare Martineau including energy, education, tech and healthcare.

James said: “My primary mission is to establish Shakespeare Martineau in the Central South – supporting a significant recruitment drive and raising the profile of the firm, locally. I have spent the vast majority my career in the Central South and am proud to call it home. I recognise it as a region with huge influence and opportunity – particularly in the research, tech and innovation space – which also stands to benefit from the inward investment being attracted by the Solent Freeport. All of which makes it a great location for Shakespeare Martineau.”

Shakespeare Martineau offers clients access to a 1200-strong team of experts – with hubs across the South West, London, East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and Scotland. The brand has a strong track record for growing teams from ground zero, including its Edinburgh footprint, which has grown to a team of 10 since its office opened in 2022, and Lincoln, which now has more than 16 legal professionals working from the city since its launch in 2021. In the last financial year, the firm grew by 16%, including 11% organic growth and 5% as a result of its merger with Bristol-based GL Law.

CEO of Shakespeare Martineau, Sarah Walker-Smith, said: “We work with several clients in Southampton and the Central South region already, across a range of our sectors, and with Southampton sitting in the UK’s top 10 most populated urban areas it felt like the next natural move for our on-the-ground presence.

“Where many of our peers are shying away or retrenching from bricks and mortar investment in regional spaces, we’re more committed than ever to growing and investing in local expertise and establishing deep roots in new regions. We are looking to attract the best legal minds in the region, who share our ambitious vision, client-centred approach, and our values of authenticity and collaboration.”

James added: “I’m delighted to be working with such a forward-thinking, ambitious law firm that unlocks potential for clients and offers excellent career opportunities for its people. I’m incredibly excited to be launching Shakespeare Martineau in the region, and bringing such strong, credible expertise to this market.”

Shakespeare Martineau is proactively recruiting lateral hires, teams and brands to join the firm.

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Sarah Walker-Smith is the CEO of Shakespeare Martineau. She is the first female, non-lawyer CEO in the legal top 50.

Sarah looks to challenge the norm in the legal sector and wider business world. She is passionate about levelling the playing field, encouraging everyone to bring their authentic selves to work.

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Published: 23rd April 2024
Area: Firm News

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