According to rollonfriday.com, the two firms have been in talks for some weeks now, although staff have not yet been informed of any concrete plans yet.
The addition of Thomas Eggar to Irwin Mitchell’s 700-lawyer, £210m practice would give it a more than credible business in the area outside the M25. The 175-lawyer firm has six offices in Chichester, Gatwick, London, Newbury, Southampton and Worthing. Thomas Eggar’s revenues for 2014/15 were flat at £41m, although the firm has seen an 18% increase in turnover over the last five years.
Thomas Eggar has a full commercial offering but is particularly noted as having a heavyweight private client practice and is top-ranked in The Legal 500 for planning and sports law.
Spokesmen at both firms said they would not comment.
A Thomas Eggar spokesman said: ‘At any given time the firm is considering a number of opportunities, but we do not provide comment on speculation.’
However, speaking to Legal Business this summer as part of our LB100 coverage, the firm’s managing partner Vicky Brackett said that Thomas Eggar will look for a merger to improve its strategic positioning, but not at any cost.
She added: ‘We are approached almost every day for a merger. We would merge for a few reasons. The first would be for geographic advantage – there are areas of work we do that would be complemented by particular geographies. We would merge for a deepening to a particular service line that we are selling well – the expertise merger.
‘I am not an advocate of taking a firm the same as ours and adding it together just so you have a bigger turnover, because all you do then is have more of the same and more of the costs. So you double your costs and double your revenue and you literally get two plus two equals four. You need the profitability to drive the investment frankly.’
A tie-up with Irwin Mitchell would certainly meet much of the criteria set out above, with the top-25 firm offering Thomas Eggar a geographic reach far beyond the south east.