WBD has appointed partner Simon Pilling as the new head of its Leeds office.

Simon joined WBD in 2015 and in that time he has led the growth of the Leeds corporate practice. In particular he has helped to develop a strong presence for the firm in the private equity sector with the firm now advising a number of the key investors that operate in the market.

Born in Yorkshire, Simon is a well-known dealmaker in the region with almost 30 years' experience as a corporate transactional lawyer. He has significant and varied experience advising on a broad range of transactions.

Simon's team advises many regional, national and international clients on high profile, high value transactions. Deals in the last few months that Simon has led include advising LDC on the creation of a new national lettings and estate agency group in a £100 million transaction to merge Lomond Capital and Linley & Simpson; advising private equity firm Nimbus on its investment into the Yorkshire manufacturing business Hawthorn Timber; and acting for Cairngorm Capital on its majority investment in Bromborough Paints.

According to Chambers legal directory, Simon is "widely admired for his extensive expertise in private equity work", with clients describing him as "a trusted adviser with a commercial approach" providing "sound advice grounded equally in law and common sense".

Simon takes over the role of office head from real estate partner Mark Owen who held the position for nearly ten years.

Simon commented: 

"Since our entry into the Leeds legal market in 2012, Mark has successfully led the growth of our Yorkshire practice to become one of the top firms in the region.

"Whilst Mark is retiring from the partnership, he will remain with us as Senior Counsel and will continue in his role in WBD's real estate team leading the firm's relationship with a number of key clients and advising on strategic land acquisitions.

"Under Mark's leadership, the office has become central to the wider WBD success story. We have created a great team supporting a fantastic range of local, national and international clients that provide our lawyers with many opportunities to work on exciting projects across a range of different sectors and geographies.

"That growth has been achieved through a combination of excellent lateral hires and internal partner promotions, with the last few months alone seeing the recruitment of Kathryn Wood from Knights (formerly Shulmans in Leeds) into our residential real estate team and the promotion of Sam Dixon and Vicky McCombe as new partners in the restructuring and construction teams respectively.

"As we come out of the pandemic and hopefully return to something resembling normality, we are committed to supporting Leeds' vision as a dynamic, innovative and nimble city.

"It is an exciting time to be doing business in Yorkshire. Last week's announcement that the Bank of England is to locate its new Northern Hub in Leeds follows closely behind the news that the city is to be the home of the new UK Infrastructure Bank. These moves clearly underline the status of West Yorkshire as the second centre for financial services outside London.

"From a wider Yorkshire perspective we have also seen the announcement regarding the prospect of a Freeport in Humber, which is excellent news for the regeneration of that area.

"I'm thrilled to take on this important office head role within the firm and look forward to working with all my colleagues to continue to build on our strong regional profile and to ensure that our business plays its part in unlocking the tremendous potential that exist for businesses across the region and beyond."

Ranking in the UK's top 20 law firms, WBD supports clients with their regional, national and international growth strategies from seven offices in the UK and 19 offices in the US.