Yorkshire Bank has signalled that confidence is returning to UK legal lenders by increasing the number of law firms in its portfolio and completing 100 new deals this year.

The latest to secure funding is north-west firm MLP Solicitors, which received £640,000 to progress with expansion plans.

The perceived stability of the legal sector has suffered in recent years, with the downturn followed by a series of high-profile failures leaving many creditors out of pocket.

However, a spokesman for Yorkshire Bank, part of the National Australia Group, said the lender is increasingly attracted to law firms. ‘As the economy continues to recover, there are more opportunities for growth created in the sector,’ he said.

‘Firms with growth ambitions are now in a better position to move forward with those plans – a clear sign that confidence is building within professional services. The bank remains focused on supporting these firms and investing in their growth ambitions.’

Sue Carter, head of professional services at Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks, indicated last year that the bank was willing to lend to law firms if they could prove they were financially viable. ‘You must be able to robustly measure performance, both in terms of financial and non-financial aspects,’ she told the Gazette.

The deal to invest in MLP Solicitors, a 25-year-old commercial firm, was made through the bank’s business and private banking centre in Manchester.

The firm, which employs 30 people and has turnover of £1.8m, plans to increase headcount by 15% in the next year.

Stephen Attree, managing director, said: ‘We are currently looking to increase our footprint in the north-west, employing more staff and increasing our turnover as we continue to help regional businesses grow by getting the right legal structures in place.’