Mid-tier pacesetter Fieldfisher has become the latest firm to explore volume legal services, opening a low-cost hub in Belfast to be staffed by 125 people.
The new Northern Irish office will provide document negotiation and legal support from a team largely consisting of paralegals. The venture is being launched in conjunction with Donaldson Legal Consulting (DLC), with which Fieldfisher has had a Belfast tie-up since the end of last year.
Via the DLC combination, Fieldfisher already has a Belfast base for its alternative legal services platform, Condor, which combines document data management and technology solutions with low-cost legal expertise.
DLC founder Alison Donaldson has been appointed managing partner of Fieldfisher Belfast and will be in charge of both the new office and the Condor operations.
Economic development agency Invest Northern Ireland has put forward a £630,000 grant towards the creation of these new jobs. The office currently has around 30 members of staff, with a view to employing some 125 people within the next three years.
Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘We are not starting from scratch, we already have 30 people there supporting clients, mainly in the financial sector. We’ve got to remain competitive with other firms who have similar operations.’
The firms Chissick is referring to include Clifford Chance (CC), who in February unveiled a surprise acquisition of Carillion’s pioneering in-house legal arm. The Newcastle-based Carillion Advice Services (CAS) was acquired for an undisclosed sum and consists of around 60 paralegals.
Moving more towards Fieldfisher’s position in the market, Taylor Wessing announced in July that it was opening a low cost centre in Liverpool. The new base is slated to open in September and will launch with an initial team of 11 lawyers and business support staff.
Fieldfisher has been on a robust financial run in recent years, announcing a 24% uptick in revenue earlier this year. The firm’s UK business brought in £135.6m, up on last year’s £110m.