Hill Dickinson (Manchester)
Hill Dickinson remain at heart an insurance specialist firm, despite recent attempts to diversify in response to the ever-increasing competition in the insurance market (and subsequent pressure on fees).
In 2002 it merged with niche Manchester property firm Gorna & Co in order to expand its Liverpool-based property practice. 2004 saw it announce a four year plan to move into the more profitable marine, environmental, fraud and corporate risk insurance sectors.
Their Manchester office has also made some solid individual hires over the last couple of years, including a construction partner from Hammonds, a three-partner clinical negligence team plus a dozen assistants and support staff from George Davies, and a number of recruits from the now-defunct firm Elliotts. The George Davies hires were a particularly useful crop as they brought enough NHS Litigation Authority work with them to make Hill Dickinson probably the biggest recipient of such work in the north west. That work itself may be notoriously unlucrative, but it has helped the firm nose onto the radar of 19 NHS trusts who are starting to send more valuable projects their way as a result.
A few years ago Hill Dicks was beginning to shake off a reputation for lacking energy and direction, and the Manchester office invested £7m in the rare purchase of the freehold of its premises. But ambition has come at a price. In 2013 the firm cut 83 jobs, including 14 partners, and sold its Chester branch to Knights Solicitors. Trainee prospects? In 2013 it retained 15 out of 21 of its 21 September qualifiers. Not great, but in this market, not terrible.
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