Leading law firms and investors discuss North Shoring to Sheffield in the Capital

Leading law firms and investors discuss North Shoring to Sheffield in the Capital

27 May 2016

Image: North Shoring event, Law Society’s offices in Chancery Lane, London

Photo credit: Nik Hamilton

Creative Sheffield – the economic development arm of Sheffield City Council and a panel of managing partners of leading law firms have come together in London to discuss the benefits of North Shoring to Sheffield.

The North Shoring event, held on Tuesday 24th May in the Law Society building (The Old Council Chamber), hosted a broad range of panel members who have hands on experience of growing legal services businesses. Attendees of the event included intermediaries who work alongside law firms and foreign direct investment agencies whose clients are looking to expand into the UK. The aim of the event was to raise awareness of the benefits the city of Sheffield has for legal services firms and for attendees to learn first-hand from those in the sector who are already achieving success in the north.

The panel included Edward Highfield, Director of Creative Sheffield, Giles Searby, Partner at HLW Keeble Hawson, Matt Peacock, Partner at OMC Partners and Lee Bartlett, Senior Manager at Fragomen Worldwide. Topics covered included Sheffield’s talent pool and graduates, the property offer, recruitment of staff, support and advice available from Creative Sheffield and the key advantages of North Shoring.

Speaking at the event, Edward Highfield, Director of Creative Sheffield, said: “Sheffield is the 4th largest city in the UK in terms of population with 560,000 people of which 25,000 of them live in Sheffield’s city centre. We have a large population of students living here, having 70,000 students of which 10,000 are international students, and one of the highest graduate retention rates in the country. With both Universities being renowned for teaching in law, business studies, modern languages and finance, we have a large talent pool to offer to new firms wishing to expand here.

“In 2015 we saw the highest volume of FDI in a decade here in Sheffield; it really is a dynamic time for the city. We have come to London today to talk more about our offer and how we can support legal sector firms.”

Also speaking at the event, Giles Searby, Partner at HLW Keeble Hawson, said: “Sheffield is a great place to open a law firm, with around 2000 law graduates coming out of University, there is a lot of talent to choose from. Having a high retention rate of students, we want to give that career path to the city’s graduates and students.

“I ‘northshored’ myself. I started my career in the City of London and moved to Sheffield 14 years ago. I have spent my time on the tube in London commuting to work and now I live in Sheffield I couldn’t go back – Sheffield can offer a fantastic lifestyle.”

Matt Peacock, Partner at OMC Partners, said: “Leading law firms including Ashurst, Addleshaw Goddard and Berwin Leighton Paisner, as well as in-house legal teams such as BT and Carillion, are capturing significant benefits through process efficiency, legal process redesign and alternatively sourcing legal and back office operations from lower cost locations such as Sheffield.

“North Shoring – when combined with wider operational efficiency approaches - is making a significant impact to lawyers’ cost bases, profitability and service delivery. Those who fail to embrace alternative sourcing opportunities will, at best, tread water or, more likely, fall behind more forward-thinking peers.”

Sheffield’s North Shoring campaign (the process of relocating aspects of a business to the North) was launched in January 2016 aiming to provide an alternative solution to the high cost office space in the capital, whilst also giving legal firms access to a highly skilled talent pool.

Panel member Lee Bartlett, Senior Manager at Fragomen Worldwide, also speaking at the event, said: “When we decided that we wanted to expand our services outside of London, we looked at many different cities across the UK. The big draw that led us to Sheffield over other cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds were the transport links and its central location in the UK. 

“We have a bit of a joke at Fragomen that Sheffield appears to be one hour from everywhere – Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham etc. Plus it’s currently only 2 hours on the train to London, and with it being on the HS2 line, it will only get quicker and more convenient to get down to London when we need to. With technology nowadays, we find that we need to be in London less and less as we can use video conferencing so that we don’t have to travel.”

Cllr Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council & Cabinet Member for Business, Skills & Development, said: “For legal services firms or foreign direct investors considering expanding into the UK, Sheffield certainly has a lot to offer. The city is in a unique position lying between five international airports, all within one hour travel time.

“As place to live and enjoy, Sheffield has a fantastic lifestyle to offer those who love big city life and the great outdoors as it is the only major city in the UK with a National Park – The Peak District - within its boundary. But as we’ve heard from business leaders at this event, we have the skills, talent and business environment set up to support successful businesses.”

Irwin Mitchell has its headquarters in Sheffield, Nabarro grew here and DLA Piper started in the city and is now the largest law firm in the world.

If you would like to know more about this event or want to learn more about Sheffield’s legal services sector and the opportunities here in Sheffield, please contact the Invest Sheffield Team  on 0114 223 2353 or  mizan.rouf@sheffield.gov.uk.