Top-60 firm Blake Lapthorn has finalised a merger with Cardiff-based Morgan Cole to create what it claims will be ‘one of the leading firms in the south’.

Blake Morgan, which will come into existence on 1 July, will have a combined turnover of £72m and 900 staff members, including 120 partners.

The Gazette reported last November that talks between the firms had started, as well as with a third party, Reading firm Boyes Turner, which later opted out of a merger.

Blake Lapthorn had a 2012/13 turnover of £45.6m. It has 234 lawyers, including 86 partners. In the same year, Morgan Cole saw revenue drop almost 8% to £33.7m.

Alan Hodgart, chief executive of Hodgart Associates, which advised on the merger, said mid-sized firms have to decide whether to scale up or specialise as consolidation continues. 

‘The merger of Blake Lapthorn and Morgan Cole brings together two businesses that are very complementary in strategic terms and presents a new competitive force in the UK market,' he said.

‘The geographical cover of the new firm coupled with a competitive depth in its core practices indicates that the firm will change the competitive landscape over the next few years.’

Walter Cha (pictured), currently managing partner at Blake Lapthorn, will continue in that role at the new firm. Cha said in November that the firm was looking to expand as it sought to ‘seek advantage in a competitive legal market’.

Cha told the Gazette that the firm would not rule out further acquisitions.  ‘We are living in what remains a challenging environment and we want to remain competitive. If a bolt-on [opportunity] arises we will look at it seriously.’ He said the acquisition will provide greater geographical reach and further opportunities to join companies’ panels.

Blake Lapthorn already has offices in London, Southampton, Oxford and Portsmouth. Morgan Cole is based in Cardiff, Oxford, Reading and Swansea.