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Legal 500 names UK’s leading private client law firms

Farrer & Co and Withers continue to lead the way in providing private client legal services as they are named in the top tier in several categories in the latest edition of the Legal 500.

20 September 2012

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Research published today (20 September 2012) by the legal directory names Withers in the top tier for art, family and personal tax, trusts and probate, and Farrer & Co as top tier providers in agriculture and estates and art.

The list, now in its 25th year, reveals that the private client market is dominated by seven London-based firms and an increasingly cross-border private client market that is a result of the current economic climate.

David Kelly, editor of the Legal 500, said: “The slow economic recovery continues to shape the private client landscape. London is seen as a safe haven for the world’s super rich in an increasingly uncertain market and the UK’s leading private client law firms continue to do well.”

In the agriculture and estates sector, the market for country houses remained gloomy in the £2m to £10m range throughout 2011, although an emergent renewables sector provided a silver lining to the cloud, says the Legal 500 report.

Clients’ reluctance to undertake development work has led to an increase in variations of leases, and option agreements for developments. The only private client firm achieving tier one status in agriculture and estates was Farrer & Co, with Bircham Dyson Bell, Boodle Hatfield and Mills & Reeve among those named in the second tier.

The art market sees firms involved across a variety of contentious and non-contentious disciplines, ranging from IP, contractual agreements between funds and galleries, fraud and criminal matters. Lawyers plough niche terrain, says the Legal 500, Farrer & Co and Forsters specialise in Old Masters artworks, while Withers’ focus is on living artists.

Farrer & Co, Mishcon de Reya and Withers LLP were those firms named in tier one for art.

On the family front, firms such as Charles Russell, Hughes Fowler Carruthers, Manches, Payne Hicks Beach, Stewarts Law and Withers compete for a small pool of ultra-high-net-worth work which tends to be litigation-oriented and is invariably multi-jurisdictional. All those firms were named as top tier providers.

The world of wealth management is increasingly international, with the high-end firms reporting an increase in shari’ah-oriented work in the Middle East, as well as instructions involving the Far East and Russia.

The Legal 500 is regarded as one of the largest and most in-depth surveys of the UK legal market. It analyses the practices of more than 1,000 law firms and takes into account tens of thousands of client references

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