Friday 05 July 2013 by John Hyde

A law firm backed by James Caan's private equity investment company has announced the appointment of a team of six town planners.

Knights Solicitors, which secured an alternative business structure licence in January, will incorporate the new additions into its real estate team.

Hamilton Bradshaw, the company owned by entrepreneur Caan (pictured), invested an undisclosed sum in Staffordshire-based Knights last summer, with ambitions to move it into the top 100 UK firms for turnover.

The incoming team is the firm's first non-law hires as it seeks to become a multi-disciplinary practice for potential clients who want to combine planning advice with legal services.

David Beech, managing partner of Knights, said: 'We are responding to client demand and the changing environment in which legal services operate by offering one-stop solutions for legal and related issues.

'The new planning team means we now offer a full range of services across real estate and we plan to repeat this kind of offering through our business in the future as a key limb of our growth strategy.'

The addition of the new planning team makes the real estate team at Knights one of the largest in the Midlands, with more than 40 lawyers and six town planners.

It was strengthened with the arrival of two new partners in January: commercial property partner, Amanda Hanmore and property partner, Christopher Howdle.

Meanwhile, a chartered surveyor has become the latest professional firm to receive ABS status to undertake legal activities.

South East Leasehold, which specialises in residential lease extensions in London and the south east, was granted the licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The successful application was the 160th approved ABS and is one of the first examples of a chartered surveyor entering the legal market.

In recent weeks, Worcestershire financial adviser and wealth management firm AFH and Midlands firm Sydney Mitchell, which branched out in 2006 to set up an estate agency in Birmingham, have also been granted ABS licences.

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