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High Flying Lawyer joins Square One Law

Founding partners of Square One Law, Ian Gilthorpe and Alan Fletcher, welcome the arrival of equity partner Neil Warwick who joins the firm’s management team as Business Development Partner.

Neil Warwick is a leading EU and competition lawyer who specialises in all aspects of competition law, in particular, State aid and EU structural funding. Neil has had a successful 25 year career to date with Dickinson Dees (more recently known as Bond Dickinson) and is well known in the north east, not only for being a specialist lawyer, but also for becoming totally involved in the region; Chair of Service Network since 2004; board member and interim Chair of Northern Business Forum; board member of the NELEP Business Support Board; previously Chair of Financial Inclusion Newcastle which alleviated worklessness in east and west Newcastle and Street North East (a community development finance initiative to give financial help to small businesses). Neil is also a board member of the strategic ERDF programme executive group for 2007-13 and also a board member of the local management committee of the same programme, being only the third person in the private sector to sit on both boards, and has recently been invited to be on the European Structural Investment Fund (2014-22) and making him the first person to do both programmes with both boards at the same time.

Senior partner, Ian Gilthorpe said, “I am really looking forward to working with Neil. He is massively committed to the north east and has great energy and drive. We are delighted that he has chosen to join us and help us develop Square One Law. His knowledge and understanding of the region, along with his legal skill set and management experience will undoubtedly help us continue the rapid growth that the firm has seen in the last year.”

Managing partner, Alan Fletcher added, “The firm grew by 68% last year and one of our highlights was winning Insider Dealmakers “NE Corporate Law Firm of the Year”, so Neil is joining us at a great time as we look to expand further and capitalise on the excellent progress we’ve made as we approach our 4th anniversary.”

Neil explained, “I am a north easterner born and bred and care passionately about this region. I went to school at Dame Allen’s, then read law at Newcastle University and was offered a training contract at Dickinson Dees. At University I did a series of jobs like stacking shelves at Tesco and getting up at 4.30am to load fruit and veg into a van and then deliver it to hotels and restaurants. It was an unconventional background, but certainly gave me a good work ethic!”

Neil was given great experience as a trainee and was seconded to their Brussels office for three months where he became involved in State aid. On qualification he joined the corporate team and was involved in the first Parkdean float, working with partner Bill Flett.

Neil continued,” I was extremely fortunate to be able to have a second secondment at this early stage of my career and went to NDC (Northern Development Company) for 12 months where I learnt all about inward investment and European grants.

“This area really interested me and when offered a choice of what to specialise in, I chose EU and competition, which surprised the partner who was mentoring me. He thought I would struggle to win work in this area, but when we won the Cowie/ British Bus MMC inquiry in 1997 he was more than happy for me to continue!”

In 2001, Neil became a partner and seven weeks later, he was offered the role of business development partner, which he did for six years, alongside developing his career as a specialist EU and competition lawyer. Then in 2007 he was promoted to equity partner and full board member of Dickinson Dees and was involved with the merger talks and subsequent launch of Bond Dickinson.

Neil said,” It has been a big decision to leave Bond Dickinson, as I have genuinely enjoyed my years there and will look back with great satisfaction at the growth and development of my career, especially during the Dickinson Dees era. I have had the opportunity to go through every European procedure and set precedents for most of them, becoming acknowledged as a leader in my field, but one area still eluded me. I had never filed a human rights case against a government. Last month I filed papers against Italy. This has meant I have finished both professionally and emotionally on a high.

“I now feel it is the right stage in my life to take on a new challenge. What impresses me about Square One Law is their totally different way of doing things. When one of their clients needed specialist competition law advice, they approached me at Bond Dickinson and we worked in collaboration to ensure their client had the best advice. From my point of view it was a fresh and positive experience and I can’t imagine any other firm in the region collaborating in such a way, but that is why law firms need a different approach if they are going to offer more value to their clients.

“Square One Law has like-minded people who are ambitious, committed to the north east and I’m looking forward to working with them and helping influence the growth of this entrepreneurial business.”

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