Legal Business Blogs

‘Tough decisions’: Norton Rose Fulbright to open low cost centre in Manilla with 170 roles affected

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is to launch a global service centre in The Philippines in a move that will affect 170 operational roles, an estimated 5% of its global workforce.

The 1,200-partner firm is set to kick off a consultation process with members its business support teams globally whose roles may be affected. The firm said in a statement this morning (19 May) that it anticipates roles will be transferred to a new centre in Manilla over a five-month period, while no fee-earning roles will be affected.

The Manila centre, which will launch in September, will provide business support services in marketing, HR, knowledge management and libraries, document production, finance, IT and compliance. The plan is part of the firm’s 2020 global efficiency drive to ‘standardise and improve the firm’s business operations processes and systems’.

NRF chief operating officer Mark Whitley said: ‘The decision to open a global service centre comes after a thorough review of the delivery of our world-wide business services model and is a key part of our overall 2020 business transformation strategy.

‘This change will mean that we will have to take some tough decisions regarding our people. We fully appreciate that this will be a difficult time for some of them. We will do everything we can to provide support to those affected, ensuring that they are treated in a sensitive and respectful way.’

Last week DLA Piper announced it is to slash 200 business support jobs in the UK in a move that will see the firm make one of the largest law firm redundancies since the aftermath of the financial crisis. Nearly a fifth of business support roles in the UK will be axed, with IT, finance, human resources, marketing, business development and secretary staff badly impacted by the cull. DLA expects to automate a number of jobs and shift roles to low-wage economy Poland.

A string of major UK law firms have launched low cost support centres both globally and in the UK regions since the 2008 banking crisis ushering in tougher trading conditions, including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills and Ashurst. NRF has struggled for growth in recent years, last year posting a 3% fall in revenues to £1.19bn, while profit per equity partner fell by 6% to £394,000.