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Square One Law, the North East entrepreneurial commercial law firm, has expanded its presence into Yorkshire and has opened in Leeds.

This move demonstrates not only the scale of the partners’ ambition and their long-term commitment to the firm’s success, but also confidence that their more agile model demonstrates a real differentiation in an overcrowded legal market.

Matthew Thompson, experienced Yorkshire property lawyer, heads its Leeds operation and will build on its success advising entrepreneurs and fast-growing businesses primarily in the North East region. Matthew joins Square One Law as a partner with more than 20 years’ experience, most recently heading up the property team of a national firm in Leeds. He will work closely with senior partner Ian Gilthorpe and managing partner Gill Hall to grow the new office.

Ian Gilthorpe, senior partner at Square One Law, said: “Leeds has been of interest to the firm for some time and Matthew is a class act, so I am delighted that he has joined us to support our growth strategy. We believe the government will deliver on its commitment to invest more into northern regions, which will create further opportunities. Our property team already acts for clients such as Highbridge, Muse Developments, Landid, Marrico, Home Group and Persimmon, so having offices in Newcastle, Teesside and Leeds will allow us to support our clients from three key areas across the North.”                 

The move into Leeds marks Square One Law’s second significant expansion since it was founded in Newcastle by a team of experienced senior lawyers in 2011. Having established a strong brand in the Newcastle market through its strategy of building long-term, personal relationships and offering a bespoke service delivered to clients by sector specialists, the partners looked carefully at how best to scale the Square One Law model into adjacent regions on a low cost, low risk basis and opened its second office in Tees Valley in 2018.

They foresaw increased investment in the Tees Valley as a result of its devolved status and Mayor Ben Houchen’s increased influence with Government. A significant amount of the legal work generated by business and the public sector on Teesside actually funds the economies of London, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle and the firm saw an opportunity, as a first mover, to be a catalyst to the creation of a stronger Tees Valley legal sector and so contribute in a small way to the regeneration of the Tees Valley economy.

Using the learning from the expansion into Teesside, an opportunity recently arose for the firm to develop a presence in the Leeds market, as a result of an approach by a Leeds based property lawyer, Matthew Thompson, who is well known to both Ian Gilthorpe and Gill Hall having worked with them previously.

Matthew Thompson said: “I have built up a niche property practice since the last recession and my expertise is in commercial development transactions including the development of office, industrial and retail parks, joint ventures, hotel developments and act for a number of independent pharmacies with large property portfolios. I work with a range of property clients including, Glentrool Group of Companies, Highgrove Group, Quest Apartment Hotels and Allied Pharmacies.

In recent years, I have aspired to be part of an entrepreneurial legal practice that differentiates itself from its competitors and holds the client and their needs at the centre of its business. I have been impressed with the excellent reputation Square One Law has built up and, with our synergy of approach, we will be able to grow our offering within Yorkshire and provide clients with the bespoke service and business relationships they desire. I am looking forward to the challenge of growing a Leeds office for Square One Law as a fully integrated part of the firm.”                                

Gill Hall, managing partner at Square One Law, said: “These are challenging times and now more than ever, management teams need to adapt to these new circumstances. We have a strong, committed senior leadership team, which has previously successfully managed through periods of great uncertainty.

Technology, supporting high levels of service delivery, has been the cornerstone of our strategy, so we are now seeing the benefit of having heavily invested in new, secure cloud-based Microsoft technologies that allow us to work in a more flexible, efficient and responsive way. This has been demonstrated by our ability to react quickly to the COVID-19 crisis, remain fully operational with our whole team working remotely, maintain high levels of service to clients and also integrate Matthew and our new Leeds presence seamlessly into our business.”                          

Square One Law was set up in the challenging times of 2011 by a small group of experienced, senior lawyers who saw an opportunity to challenge the status quo by looking to transform the legal support available to entrepreneurs and fast growing businesses, primarily in the North East region. Its strategy has always been to invest in building long term, personal client relationships and offering a bespoke service where clients deal with experienced partners who are specialists in their sectors and become involved in the discussions around the strategic direction of their businesses and the initiation of projects rather than just processing the legal outcomes.

It is a business with a loyal and growing client base such as Able UK, Tharsus, Teesside University, Shepherd Offshore and many others whose projects will be unaffected once the COVID-19 shock has passed and we recognise that there will be opportunities for many of our clients post this crisis

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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