US firm Latham & Watkins has announced internally that it will open a business services office in Manchester during the first half of 2015.
The office will service the firm’s European network with Latham & Watkins planning to have around 25 staff in place by the end of the year. The move will be spearheaded by Rod Harrington, the firm’s chief administrative officer, Europe.
The firm says that growing demand in London, where the firm has expanded from 184 lawyers in 2010 to 258 in 2014, is behind the decision. A spokesperson for the firm told Legal Business: ‘It’s an investment in Europe.’
Following an 18-month consultation, the Manchester office will initially focus on IT and technology support, with a financial analysis team to provide practice and regional heads with greater budgetary insight. ‘Our initial focus is on those two areas but that could grow over time,’ says Harrington.
He told Legal Business: ‘We landed on Manchester for a number of reasons. Firstly, there’s a good talent pool, and secondly, we’re very much a one-firm global operating model so travel to our other offices is vital and Manchester is the second most connected city in the UK after London.’
He added: ‘It’s a long-term play, we’ve not been forced to do this for short-term cost cutting reasons, it’s about dealing with the significant growth at the firm which we expect to continue. As we’ve grown outside the US, that poses challenges as the LA business services office has had to provide service to Europe in the middle of the night. By establishing a business services unit in the European timezone we can pretty much cover 24-7 support.’
The firm opened its first global services office in Los Angeles over a decade ago and now has over 300 staff in its business services team, covering IT, accounting, business development and human resources.
London-headquartered Berwin Leighton Paisner opened a business services office in Manchester last year and mid-tier firm Nabarro opened a partner-led office to handle real estate work in May.
Baker & McKenzie opened its first business services outpost in Europe with a Belfast office late last year. Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills have also nearshored low-cost legal services to Belfast as firms restructure their operations to become more cost-effective.