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Access to Freshfields’ new Manchester office is through a shopping centre

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Lawyers at esteemed magic circle firm will be able to grab fast-food and trainers en route to work

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Since last month magic circle powerhouse Freshfields has been on the hunt for offices in Manchester. The new location will provide a home for junior lawyers charged with handling “repetitive legal work”.

It now appears that the firm has settled on a temporary base as bleak as the tasks staff will be carrying out.

Freshfields’ likely new gaffe, Arndale House (pictured below), is a 23 story concrete eyesore that has been part of the Manchester skyline since the 1970s. Somewhat bizarrely, it is only accessible on foot through the Arndale shopping centre, in which it sits at the heart.

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According to The Lawyer, Freshfields are in talks to sign a short-term lease which would see the firm take up 40,000 square feet of the building while it negotiates rental fees on a more befitting home due for completion in 2016.

Certainly Arndale House makes a sharp contrast from the plush surroundings of the magic circle firm’s Fleet Street offices. In London, Freshies’ lawyers pass through a delightful courtyard (pictured below left) on their way to work; in Manchester they will enter the building through one of two entrances (pictured below right) used by almost 41 million shoppers each year.

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Europe’s third largest city-based shopping centre — which was substantially redeveloped after the 1996 IRA bombings — includes stores such Aldi, Sports Direct and Poundworld.

Doubtless Freshfields’ lawyers will take full advantage of the amenities on offer and treat clients to a half chicken and chips at the Nandos, just a stone’s throw away in the Arndale Centre food-hall.

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Freshfields’ move to Manchester is part of the “northshoring” trend to the city that is being led by Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Nabarro and Latham Watkins.

BLP and Nabarro made the leap north last year — the former into premises in the city’s King Street and the latter into the swish Spinningfields development — with US giant Latham & Watkins announcing similar plans earlier this year.