TWO of South Lakeland’s most prominent law firms have merged to form the largest solicitors’ practice in southern Cumbria.

Thomson Wilson Pattinson (TWP) and Hayton Winkley (HW) say joining forces will enable them to offer clients ‘a greater breadth of expertise’. The new firm - to be known as Thomson Hayton Winkley - will have 25 fee earners supported by 35 members of staff.

There will be no redundancies as a result of the merger, although John Oldroyd has left HW to become a district judge in St Helens. The firms say the deal makes sense because they have built up specialist expertise in complementary areas of law.

TWP, which was founded in 1857, has a strong private client base, while HW, created in 1970, has developed a reputation for high quality commercial work.

John Cooke, a director at TWP, said: “The legal profession has been going through a tremendous upheaval in recent years with new providers entering the legal market place, and some traditional firms across the country leaving the market and closing their doors. These changes have provided an impetus for some firms, such as TWP and HW, to see opportunities for consolidating and strengthening their existing positions by joining forces.

“As well as producing a greater breadth of expertise by adding to the numbers of people carrying out work for clients in the newly merged firm, there is an additional depth as one firm brings specialist expertise to the other and vice versa.”

As a result of the merger, TWP’s office in Lake Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, will close and the staff moved to 25 Crescent Road, Windermere. The former HW office at Stramongate House, Kendal has closed, and the staff there have moved to TWP’s offices in Stricklandgate, Kendal.

Mr Cooke said: “As part of the merger we have planned a thorough overhaul of our computer system, which will involve a replacement of the entire system in the coming months. This will result in greater efficiencies and even higher levels of service to client.”

He added: “We have recently been granted planning permission to develop 25 Crescent Road, which means that we can create a new reception area at ground floor level. As well as being an attractive addition to the appearance of the building, it should make a trip to the office a more pleasant experience.”