National firm DWF today announced plans to merge with German practice BridgehouseLaw, effective from 1 January.

In a statement, DWF said the move was driven by client demand and will expand its reach in Germany in the energy, real estate, retail, food, hospital and technology sectors.

BridgehouseLaw operates from Cologne and Munich and also has an international network covering much of the Middle East and the US.

The firm concentrates on advising foreign, especially US and Israel-based companies expanding into Germany and German companies expanding abroad, especially into the US, and advises them on the full range of commercial issues.

DWF managing partner and chief executive Andrew Leaitherland (pictured right), said: ‘BridgehouseLaw is a strong strategic fit with DWF, giving us capability in key geographic regions where we’ve identified growth opportunities with existing clients in our chosen industry sectors particularly tech and energy.

‘DWF has a large number of German clients, as well as clients who do business in Germany, the EU and the US, and this strategic acquisition provides a platform to access many of the sectors and markets which are important to our clients’ business objectives and which support DWF’s own strategic plans.’

Leaitherland will continue to lead the overall business and with BridgehouseLaw’s Michael Falter (pictured left) will lead operations in Germany as managing partner of DWF Germany.

The merged firm will have a turnover of £194m and will employ approximately 2,360 people across 16 locations.

BridgehouseLaw’s four equity partners - Oliver Bolthausen, Klaus Brisch, Michael Falter and Dr Mathias Reif - will become equity partners of DWF LLP.

* Meanwhile, Midlands firm Shakespeare Martineau has announced a merger with London-based commercial law firm Macrae & Co LLP.

Formerly based in Cannon Street, the five-strong team of lawyers and support staff will be joining Shakespeare Martineau’s London office, situated in Crosswall.

The expanded firm will have more than 850 people with a combined annual turnover of £75m.

* National firm Bircham Dyson Bell has confirmed it merged with boutique commercial and residential property firm Hutchinson Mainprice, with its team joining the BDB real estate department at the Westminster office.