Top-50 firm Weightmans is on the verge of expanding into Leeds with a merger with a commercial practice based in the city.

Weightmans today confirmed that it is in ‘formal contract negotiations’ to absorb Ford & Warren next month.

The merged firm will keep the Weightmans name and will add the Leeds location to its existing eight offices.

The enlarged firm will have 187 partners, including 13 from Ford & Warren, and a total headcount of more than 1,400 people.

In a statement published today, Weightmans said the two firms work in similar sectors and with the same type of clients and that a merger would help to establish a national presence.

Managing partner John Schorah (pictured) said: ‘The move is very much client-driven, both in terms of clients we have in common and support from our clients to be there. Having explored and discussed our synergies, we believe we can, as a combined firm, grow in the Leeds market.’

The firm reported last month that it achieved record turnover in the 2014/15 financial year of £89.2m, although it did not give details of profit figures.

Accounts for the 2013/14 financial year show that profit before tax increased marginally year on year from £24.06m to £24.87m. Turnover went up from £82.7m to £87.6m.

Ford & Warren markets itself as an ‘independent single office commercial firm’ based in Leeds, but takes 70% of its work from outside Yorkshire.

The firm has three divisions: litigation, business and commercial, and private client work, including family law, residential conveyancing and wills and probate.