Freshfields to open Manchester office for ‘repetitive legal work’

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Second member of the magic circle to try “northshoring”, with junior lawyer positions likely to be up for grabs


Freshfields Bruckaus Deringer is to become the first magic circle law firm to open an office in Manchester.

Details of the new office — which will be the firm’s 29th — remain hazy, but Freshfields has confirmed that it will handle legal work, alongside various back office functions. Legal Cheek understands that the firm is looking at various sites in Manchester city centre, where rent on office space costs half the price of central London.

This afternoon Legal Business reported that the office would focus on “repetitive legal work”, quoting Freshfields as stating:

“We are considering opening a Manchester-based shared services centre for more repetitive legal work and a range of global business services to support our client-facing lawyers in the most efficient way. Details are yet to be determined.”

Freshfields has since issued this official statement:

“Following a strategic review of our operational models and business processes, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 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, wherever they are in the world, in an ever evolving market and technological environment.”

The planned move means the Anglo-German giant will be the second magic circle law firm with a UK regional office, with Allen & Overy having opened in Belfast in 2011.

If Freshfields’ Manchester venture follows the pattern of A&O’s development in the Northern Irish capital, it will first employ paralegals, then bring in a smattering of junior lawyers before launching its own training contracts. Last year A&O offered five TCs in Belfast. These have come at the expense of trainee places in London, which the firm reduced from 90 to 85 this year.

Freshfields — which reduced London trainee numbers from 90 to 80 this year — will join fellow Manchester newbies Berwin Leighton Paisner, Nabarro and Latham & Watkins. BLP and Nabarro opened in the city last year and Latham is set to launch in the home of the Stone Roses in the next few months.

Other City firms which have recently established low-cost support offices elsewhere in the UK include Baker & McKenzie (Belfast), Hogan Lovells (Birmingham) and Ashurst (Glasgow).



Speaks volumes about Southerners’ attitudes to the North of England.



Hardly. Their choice of offices is more of a pragmatic one. For Freshfields’ headquarters it makes sense to base themselves in London as most of their work is international or concerned with the City. This makes London an ideal location as it puts the firm in proximity to its clients and markets. Manchester is then a pragmatic choice for a support office as it remains an important business hub (though not on the scale of London), but has rent at half the price. That’s no indictment of the abilities of northern lawyers or businessmen. I’m a northerner myself and I see the sense in it.


Not Amused

Thanks Chippy, way to show some gratitude. It’s an outsourced office for work that could be done anywhere, if you don’t fancy the jobs then I’m sure my home town could do with the employment.



Some inaccuracies here

Clifford Chance off-shoreside work to Delhi and have done so for years.
Linklaters have near-shored to Colchester since 1997.
It would be Freshfields 28th office.


Alex Aldridge

The piece makes no mention of outsourcing overseas. The point about Clifford Chance you’ve made is the addition of a further fact, not the correction of an inaccuracy.

I went to India to write about legal outsourcers, including companies which serviced CC and Slaughter and May, in 2009 while I was associate editor of Legal Week. At the time overseas outsourcing, or “offshoring” as it was termed, was widely predicted to catch on, but Legal Week correctly anticipated that regional outsourcing was the more likely trend to gain long term traction.

Re number of offices – Just following the Legal Cheek firm profile, which has been verified by Freshfields. But will amend if incorrect.

Re Linklaters’ semi-official Colchester office – I’m also well aware of this. But as it doesn’t feature on the firm’s website ( I opted not to include it here. But on reflection, you’re right – I should have mentioned it. Thanks for flagging it up.



This is bittersweet. It’s wonderful, because we’re getting more employment opportunities here in the city where I live. But why is it that the reporting/assumption reads as ‘don’t give the North any ‘clever’ work, they couldn’t possibly comprehend it’? For the avoidance of doubt, no-one is required to surrender their brains at the crossing of the Watford Gap….



Don’t be so chippy, Mancunians, that’s your interpretations, we switched all our legal work from london to Manchester and leeds a long time ago , there are some very talented lawyers in both cities, as and more capable than london counterparts who by their very structure and nature offer a cookie cutter machine led process, good for Freshfields a little bit like BNYM once they arrive in Manchester they will quickly find they can re locate high value work too, Nabarros expect to treble their operation in three years.



Crazy when all the main courts and chambers are on there doorstep


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