National law firm Shakespeare Martineau has eyes on Southampton and the Central South for its ambitious expansion strategy.

The firm has secured an office at the University of Southampton Science Park.

Spearheading the expansion is a newly-hired corporate partner James Hawkeswood, who was previously the national head of corporate practice at Blake Morgan.

The firm has growth plans to increase its team to double figures by year-end. It has already confirmed the appointment of two new partners. The first, a commercial litigation specialist, will join the team in May followed by a banking specialist in June.

Hawkeswood, now the office head for Shakespeare Martineau in Southampton, has a background in corporate law including M&A, joint ventures, private equity investments, and complex cross-border transactions.

Shakespeare Martineau has a robust team of over 1,200 experts across the South West, London, East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and Scotland.

The firm has a history of establishing teams from scratch, such as its Edinburgh and Lincoln offices opened in 2022 and 2021 respectively, now with 10 and 16 legal professionals respectively.

In the last financial year, the firm saw a 16 per cent increase, including 11 per cent organic growth and 5 per cent following its merger with Bristol-based GL Law.

James said: "My primary mission is to establish Shakespeare Martineau in the Central South – supporting a significant recruitment drive and raising the profile of the firm locally. I have spent the vast majority my career in the Central South and I am proud to call it home.

"I recognise it as a region with huge influence and opportunity – particularly in the research, technology and innovation space – which also stands to benefit from the inward investment being attracted by the Solent Freeport, all of which makes it a great location for Shakespeare Martineau."