Following Hogan Lovells announcement at the start of February that it is setting up a business process outsourcing centre in South Africa, the top 15 LB100 law firm has launched a new legal services centre in Birmingham to undertake low level legal work as a cost effective extension of its London office.
The nearshoring venture, called the Legal Service Centre, will be developed over time in response to client demand but it is expected to comprise up to 20 lawyers initially. London partner Alan Greenough will be moving to Birmingham to manage the office, which is expected to be established by autumn this year.
The office aims to use flexible contract or locum junior lawyers as the firm ‘adapt[s] how we deliver legal services in a way that meets the changing needs of clients and also of our people.’
The new Birmingham office will cover due diligence and document reviews for litigation, corporate, finance and real estate projects, aspects of real estate work such as leasing and licensing of premises, and the preparation of formal documentation for the completion of transactions, some intragroup reorganisations and minor contract amendments.
It follows the announcement in early February that the transatlantic firm has put South Africa at the centre of its cost savings plans for clients, setting up a business support services function that will see new vacancies from Europe and Asia evaluated in terms of whether they could as easily be done from the lower cost site.
The centre, which has been set up in the same building as recent South African merger partner Routledge Modise, follows a strategic review of how the firm provides business services support, and will initially provide a reasonably low-level range of services including conflict checking, client due diligence and research.
Hogan Lovells regional managing partner for the UK and Africa, Susan Bright said of its latest venture: ‘We are constantly looking for cost-effective solutions for our clients in relation to fee arrangements and the provision of legal advice. Hogan Lovells has for many years been a leader in this area, with initiatives such as our real estate outsourcing service, our Alicante office for Europe-wide trademark portfolio work, our bespoke offshoring arrangements for certain litigation projects and our use of alumni, contract lawyers and paralegals for a range of work including document reviews for litigation and corporate projects. The Legal Services Centre will extend the range of options we already offer. We are delighted to be establishing the centre in Birmingham which has a significant and high quality legal community.’
The move echoes previous initiatives from firms including Ashurst, which set up a 150-strong unit in Glasgow to support its practice in June last year, as well as Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills that lauched sizeable support operations in Belfast as a means of lowering costs.