Semple Fraser bids for UK deals with first English office

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MID-TIER law firm Semple Fraser has unveiled plans to open its first office in England in an attempt to capture more UK-wide deal activity.

The firm has always had a "cross-Border" string to its bow, with more than one-third of its lawyers qualified to practice throughout the UK.

Semple Fraser plans to open an office in Manchester next month and will place Ewan Thomson in charge of its operation south of the Border.

Mr Thomson, currently a commercial property partner based in the firm's Edinburgh office, will relocate to Manchester.

He will be assisted by Simon Etchells, a senior partner in Semple Fraser's Glasgow office.

Further support will come from other Semple Fraser partners, including Vincent Brown, Ken Carruthers, Bill Fowler, June Gilles, Alex Innes and Stuart Macfarlane.

Alister Fraser, the firm's managing partner, said: "We know that times are tough, but now is the ideal time to extend our reach and seek to position ourselves to capitalise on UK-wide opportunities both through the downturn and as the recovery takes hold.

"We see Manchester as the ideal location. It is a vibrant, exciting city that we will enjoy working in."

Mr Thomson said: "It is a challenging time for us all, yet I am confident that we can add value to the firm's offer and to our clients by opening up in Manchester.

"It is an exciting venture, and with the support of my specialist colleagues, Simon and I are looking forward to growing the business and replicating the UK-wide success we have had operating in Edinburgh and Glasgow from our newest base."

Semple Fraser was founded in Glasgow in November 1990 and opened an office in Edinburgh seven years ago.

The firm now has about 150 staff, of which 90 are fee earners and 24 partners.

Areas covered by the firm include commercial property, construction, finance, waste and energy. Tesco and Royal Bank of Scotland are among its clients.

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