Private equity-backed Midlands firm Knights Solicitors has announced the acquisition of the Chester office of top-50 firm Hill Dickinson.

Knights, which last month celebrated a year since it received a cash injection from the James Caan investment vehicle Hamilton Bradshaw, will take on an office with four partners and 20 staff as part of the deal. The partners are Brent Williams, Robin Jones (both property), Ian Sydenham (private client) and Sally Wightman (corporate).

This is the firm’s first external move, as it begins its ambition to extend its reach nationally and to double turnover in the next three years.

For Hill Dickinson, where profit per equity partner fell 15% in 2012/13, the sale comes at a time when the firm is undergoing a major change in strategy.

Peter Jackson, managing partner of Hill Dickinson, said: ‘This acquisition underpins our commitment in this changing legal market to international and UK growth.

‘Within the UK we remain a major north-west heavyweight, employing over 1,080 people in the region, whilst at the same time continuing to further develop our influence in key sectors both within the UK and overseas.’

The sale is part of a wider ongoing consultation on the future of the firm, with an internal announcement expected tomorrow. It is expected the review will lead to some redundancies, although the firm has not confirmed how many people will be involved.

According to Companies House records, 17 members of the partnership have had their appointments terminated since 1 May, with 10 new members appointed.

Knights has experienced significant growth since the investment in June 2012, taking on 40 new lawyers across all practice areas and receiving an alternative business structure licence earlier this year.

It has also recruited a team of six town planners from Staffordshire-based practice John Rose Associates.

Managing partner David Beech said the firm has shown the legal profession the benefits of embracing private equity investment.

‘We’ve shown over the last 12 months that there is nothing to fear from the right kind of private equity investment, which we found in James Caan and Hamilton Bradshaw.

‘Our people have been energised by a business model that gives them clear leadership from one decision-maker and rewards them for the results they achieve.’