Full-service firm JMW Solicitors – for so long synonymous with its Manchester home – has announced plans to open an office in London. 

The firm will expand into the capital from next month, taking on enough space to accommodate 32 staff members at offices in the Bank area. 

The London office will be led by family law partner Catherine Thomas and business crime and regulatory partner Lee Adams, who both join the firm from today. 

Around 20 people will have moved in by the end of June, with 13 offers of partnership having been accepted by London-based lawyers. 

The firm was founded more than 40 years ago in Manchester – growing to around 450 staff today – and has operated solely from the city ever since (barring the recent expansion into Liverpool). While many of its competitors in the city operate from national or international locations, JMW has previously resisted following them. 

In a joint statement, senior partner Joy Kingsley and managing partner Paul Walker said they were ‘surprised and excited’ to have created the London office in such a short time, having only put forward the idea four months ago. 

‘Many people are interested in our reasons for coming to London at an uncertain time,’ they said. ‘We have been driven by our client and partner needs.’ 

They explained the firm’s 40-person family department is increasingly working in London following the merger with the DWF family team in May last year. Appointment to the panels of the Chief Police Officers Staff Association and the Police Superintendents Association have also created the need for a London presence, as well as partners spending more time in London with commercial litigation and real estate clients. 

Kingsley and Walker added: ‘We could have set up a serviced office but we decided that it wouldn’t satisfy our requirements, so we now have excellent people and office space and we hope to replicate in London the success we have had in Manchester.’ 

Catherine Thomas joins from national firm Vardags where she was managing director. Lee Adams was previously partner at Hughmans and led the criminal department.