Freshfields to open Manchester office for ‘repetitive legal work’

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By Alex Aldridge on

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).