HALLIWELLS, the first legal outfit to fall victim to the recession and face administration, was close to securing a deal last night with a rival firm in a bid to transfer some of its business.
Late last week, the Manchester based firm filed for court permission to appoint an administrator after taking a severe hit from escalating debts, and falling income and profit levels.
It is understood that Halliwells is in discussion with Hill Dickinson to transfer a large portion of its business in Manchester.
Halliwells, which will be the largest commercial firm to face administration, has suffered from two years of partner walkouts, redundancies and a sharp fall in profits.
The firm, which has entered into a moratorium to protect clients and other stakeholders, attributed high property costs and the current economic climate as the main contributors to the fall in profits, but said that its underlying business remains strong.
The news is a blow to Halliwells after the firm completed a £20m refinancing earlier this year, which was thought to have put it in a stronger position for another three years.
BDO is expected to be appointed as administrator, with partner Dermot Power thought to be ready to take up the lead role.
Halliwells and BDO did not return calls, while Hill Dickinson declined to comment.