Three years on from the launch of its Belfast legal and support services centre, Allen & Overy (A&O) has exceeded headcount targets and has unveiled plans to recruit a further 100 new staff over the next five years.
Launched in late 2011, the Northern Ireland office exceeded its 2014 headcount target of 300 employees earlier this year, currently housing 380 staff, including around 320 non-lawyers and 60 lawyers, making it the firm’s third largest office worldwide.
Over the next five years, the firm aims to hire a further 70 legal staff and 30 support staff in a bid to optimise revenues.
A spokesperson for the firm told Legal Business that the number of matters going through its Legal Services Centre (LSC) in Belfast doubled in the financial year ending April 2014, whilst revenues tripled, although the firm declined to provide figures to support this.
Earlier this year, the firm confirmed the project was contributing significantly to its bottom line thanks to greater efficiency savings. At the beginning of 2013, the firm moved a number of support roles out of Europe and the US into Belfast, which also led to a fall in staff costs.
A&O global managing partner Wim Dejonghe (pictured) said: ‘The new roles reflect the success of our Belfast operation, with the office continuing to grow ahead of expectations. That success is largely down to the quality of the people that A&O has been able to recruit in Northern Ireland. As the global economy continues to improve, we see opportunities to continue to grow the wider business and Belfast plays a crucial role in facilitating that growth.’
Jane Townsend, partner and head of the LSC, added: ‘The way in which we deliver our service to clients continues to change rapidly. The LSC in Belfast has given us a real and tangible competitive advantage and we have won significant mandates as a result. This additional resource will ensure we can meet this growing demand and that we remain at the forefront of changes in our market.’
The legal services centre in Belfast is headed by partner Jane Townsend, and predominantly carries out large volume work such as banking and regulatory litigation, corporate and due diligence, with its main competition being second tier firms.
In our leadership insight feature, published this week, senior partner David Morley told Legal Business that the success of the legal and support services centre in Belfast has given management the political capital to try other successful innovations, such as contract lawyer business Peerpoint, which launched last year.