Legal Business Blogs

Sheffield reaches out to Magic Circle with northshoring campaign

Sheffield City Council is targeting the UK’s top 100 law firms in a bid to entice them to establish offices in its business hub.

Creative Sheffield, the economic development arm of Sheffield City Council, is singling out City firms as part of its northshoring campaign in January. The local government said it had offered one Magic Circle firm rent free office space for one year if it agrees to sign a five year lease.

The offer comes as part of broader incentives to law firms and other investors looking to move to the city including property deals, a business investment fund, business rates support and relocation support. Firms already based in Sheffield include DLA Piper, Irwin Mitchell and Nabarro.

Commenting on whether or not London law firms would consider a northshoring offer, Ashurst Glasgow managing partner Mike Polson (pictured) said there’s an efficiency drive across the legal sector responding to client challenges and market pressure, so law firms on all scales would be looking at possibilities.

He said: ‘You wouldn’t undertake an initiative of this nature just for these incentives. You’ve also got to look at the total benefit and the reasoning behind it, so I don’t think anyone is going to be swayed by an incentive element alone. However, they’ll look at that as part of the overall package including the talent pool, the cost of the property, transport links, infrastructure and many other factors.’

Deputy leader of Sheffield City Council Leigh Bramall said the campaign has already generated a great deal of support from legal services firms already in the city who are keen to see the sector grow.

‘Office take-up in Sheffield is booming in light of major new developments and an up-turn in confidence in the market, with office take-up reaching just under half a million square feet in 2015,’ Bramall said. ‘Having Grade A city centre office space available, excellent transport links and affordable living costs in highly sought-after areas that don’t push out the talented people who want to live and work here, makes us one of the most cost-effective cities in the UK for businesses looking to re-locate.’

While Sheffield is pushing hard to become the next nearshoring hot spot, Manchester has seen a boost from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer while Belfast has benefited from Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie and Herbert Smith Freehills all entering the market with low cost centres.