A&O widens Belfast focus with fee-earner injection

Allen & Overy (A&O) is bolstering its Belfast Legal Services Centre with a team of fee-earners as it diversifies the support centre’s focus.

The firm is looking for 20 associates and legal professionals (Northern Ireland’s equivalent of paralegals) to start working on due ­diligence for M&A and ­dispute resolution discovery and disclosure work in the New Year.

The Belfast office, which will open officially this week, is home to 141 support staff. This is expected to rise to 165 by Christmas and 195 by April 2012. The first new fee-earner is due to join at the end of January 2012.

A&O held redundancy talks with 155 support staff in London ahead of the launch of the office. It is expected that there will be 250 support roles in Belfast by 2014, along with 50 fee-earners.

Last week A&O released its half-year results. It posted an 11 per cent turnover hike, from £526m in the middle of 2010-11 to £582m. Managing partner Wim Dejonghe attributed this to investment in new markets, with 11 office launches in three years.

Dejonghe added that the firm was looking at 10 or 12 further jurisdictions, with Turkey near the top of the list. The firm was considering a launch in South Korea on the back of that country’s trade agreement with the EU, but shelved the plans.

A&O is also exploring a tie-up with Linklaters’ Singapore ally Allen & Gledhill.