Legal Business Blogs

Cog on the Tyne – Norton Rose expands Newcastle legal services hub following successful trial

After a year-long trial, Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is following up on its recent transatlantic merger with further investment in its Newcastle legal services hub.

Supporting the firm’s operations globally, the Newcastle operation will move to larger premises on 1 November amid plans to increase headcount in the North East from 28 to 100 over the next two to three years.

The Newcastle centre launched as a one-year trial in 2016 that saw 25 paralegal staff and three associates provide legal support work across all practice groups. The team has also trialled the use of new legal technology, as well as collecting and analysing data for research.

Martin Scott, managing partner of Norton Rose Fulbright, Europe, Middle East & Asia, said expanding the team outside of London would allow the firm ‘to trial emerging technology and working practices, including agile working, in a structured way’.

Kiran Radhakrishnan, head of the Newcastle hub, told Legal Businessthe firm does not plan to move any employees from London and would prefer to recruit locally. He added that the pace of the team expansion will depend on demand, which at the moment ‘is looking very good’.

‘With its universities, the local talent pool and its growing reputation for technology and innovation, Newcastle seemed the right place to establish the hub. We ran a pilot to see whether the concept worked for us and that’s proved successful: demand is rapidly increasing, so the team needs to expand.’

NRF has signed a ten-year lease with Northumberland Estates for the new 6,950 sq ft premises in Quayside and was supported in the search by Invest Newcastle, a scheme devised by Newcastle City Council to support investment and job creation in the area.

The firm has focused heavily on efficiency in recent years and it is seen as a key plank of its strategy. The drive was illustrated by plans to relocate 170 operational roles, 5% of the global workforce, to a service centre in Manila, in a move announced in May last year. It is only the latest firm to focus on removing legal costs by enhancing efficiency through legal service centres, including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Hogan Lovells, among other Global 100 rivals.

Speaking to Legal Business this summer, global chief executive Peter Martyr said: ‘Efficiency is a big trend: that is why we are investing to get a platform that will make us more efficient. Everyone is focusing on that more than ever, because clients are becoming more demanding. The overall size of the legal market has not increased, so to be competitive you have to be more efficient.’

For more on culture and strategy at Norton Rose Fulbright, read ‘On the bus – Inside the Norton Rose Fulbright masterplan’