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Nearshoring: Freshfields plans Manchester low-cost hub

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has become the latest law firm to plan the launch of a low-cost services hub in Manchester as it seeks to move the majority of its support services team out of its London office.

The move to Manchester is expected to create a number of redundancies within the support services team, although some are expected to re-locate in phases starting next year, with back office staff being the first to relocate. Alongside business services, repetitive legal work could also be shifted to the new centre.

The firm is currently considering various sites based in Manchester’s city centre and is understood to have hired Knight Frank to find a 100,000 sq ft site in the city. The move will considerably lower the firm’s expenditure for its UK rental office space, with the price of square footage in Manchester’s rental market averaging 50% less than London.

The firm said in a statement: ‘Following a strategic review of our operational models and business processes, Freshfields is considering a range of enhancements to our global infrastructure. We are devising this programme of change so that we can build on our tradition of providing outstanding and highly efficient service to our clients.’

The devised launch comes as US firm Latham & Watkins announced in January that it will open a business services office in Manchester during the first half of 2015. Latham’s aims to have around 25 staff in place by the end of the year.

Other firms that previously launched similar services include Berwin Leighton Paisner’s business services office in Manchester that opened last year; mid-tier firm Nabarro’s office to handle real estate work which opened in May; Baker & McKenzie, which opened its first business services outpost in Europe with a Belfast office late last year; and rival Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills, which also launched low-cost legal services outposts in Belfast.