Legal Business Blogs

Bakers launches low-cost hub in Florida… just after redundancy consultation with 300 City staff

Baker McKenzie has announced plans for its third low-cost centre two weeks after putting what is thought to be more than 300 City business staff under consultation in a global efficiency drive.

The firm’s new global hub in Tampa, Florida, will be operational in 2020 and create more than 300 roles – a similar headcount to the firm’s London professional and business services (PBS) staff put under review earlier this month.

Again similarly to London’s PBS staff, the new roles will cover legal services, finance, IT, knowledge management, operations, business development, marketing and communications. The firm’s two other low-cost hubs are in Manila and Belfast.

‘We were looking for an exceptional pool of talent, a meaningful cultural fit and a global outlook that will work well with our business needs – Tampa ticked all those boxes,’ said the firm’s former Washington DC and New York chief operating officer, Jamie Lawless, who will now lead the new hub.

Global chair Paul Rawlinson (pictured) added: ‘Our centres, and our plans to grow them, show we are serious about innovating to provide faster, more efficient and more cost-effective services.’

Bakers announced a three-year global reorganisation of its service delivery earlier this month. A decision has yet to be reached as to how many City roles will go as a result of the process.

Making Bakers more profitable is a long-stated aim of Rawlinson, while the firm has an unofficial goal to bring its profits per equity partner (PEP) to $2m. It made significant headway in that direction this year, as partner profits rose 13% to $1.44m amid 8% revenue growth to $2.9bn.

Such moves underline the spirit-dampening trend sweeping global law of business service staff being axed and jobs relocated to cheaper locales in efficiency drives, while lawyers are left largely untouched.

A number of firms have put their City support staff under review amid increasing pressure to maximise efficiency. In July, Ashurst slashed 54 of its 100-strong secretarial team and Ince & Co announced 32 redundancies.

Hogan Lovells cut 54 of around 500 business services roles in June, moving most of them to low-cost hubs in Birmingham, Johannesburg and Louisville.

Cynics will note that such moves happen at the same time law firms are loudly trumpeting initiatives to expand their skills beyond the law.

For more analysis on Baker McKenzie see ‘Waking the giant’ (£)