Gowling WLG, an Anglo-Canadian firm, has made a striking entrance into Leeds by welcoming a skilled team of seven from UK rival Womble Bond Dickinson.
Heading Gowling’s housing development and regeneration (HDR) practice is Julia Dacre Field, a partner with more than two decades of sector experience who previously led Womble Bond’s housebuilder team in Leeds.
The team is comprised of several accomplished legal professionals: legal directors Kathryn Wood and James Lawson, counsel Mark Owen, principal associates Patrick Jackson and Emma Speight, and senior associate Liam Turner.
Chris Hunt, the head of real estate at Gowling, expressed enthusiasm about collaborating with Julia and her team, especially given their expertise in catering to top-tier HDR clients in Leeds and Northern UK. He emphasised that their arrival would benefit both clients and the firm’s growth endeavours.
Dacre Field, with an extensive background in advising house builders, landowners, and public entities on significant residential development and regeneration projects, will work closely with the national head of HDR Ashley Mitchell and senior HDR partner Richard Bate at Gowling. Previously, she was a partner in Womble Bond’s real estate team for five years and had affiliations with firms like Yorkshire’s Shulman’s and legacy firm Eversheds.
Gowling currently houses 11 partners within its UK development and regeneration practice, supported by a wider team of 50 lawyers and 125 fee earners. Their exceptional work has involved noteworthy undertakings such as counselling St Mowden Developments in a joint venture with Vinci Plc for the £2 billion redevelopment of London’s New Covent Garden Market and guiding a consortium of developers in acquiring 1,200 acres of land near Plymouth for the establishment of the new town of Sherford.
The firm’s broader real estate practice has earned a Tier 1 ranking in The Legal 500, boasting prominent clients, including major housebuilders like Taylor Wimpey and Grainger, the latter being a client of Dacre Field during her tenure at Womble Bond.
This strategic move to onboard the Womble Bond team marks Gowling’s expansion, establishing its third presence in the UK after Birmingham and London.
This initiative aligns Gowling with firms like Addleshaw Goddard, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Squire Patton Boggs, and Walker Morris, all with a notable presence in Leeds.
Leeds-based Womble Bond partner Claire Brook, who also holds a position on the firm’s board and leads the real estate business group, emphasised that real estate remains a pivotal sector for Womble Bond and is deeply embedded in its offerings.