Herbert Smith to open Belfast office to handle litigation due diligence

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  • This is an awful idea, the work will be done much cheaper but not necessarily as well.

    Most of the lawyers/paralegals in NI don't have experience in the sort of litigation that HS would handle, are qualified/experienced in NI law only rather than English law and have not completed even the LPC.

    Nonetheless, they'll have no shortage of applicants desperate to get any sort of paid legal job in NI.

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  • The nature of these sausage factories is also that of a dead end rather than a stepping stone to an actual career with the firm. Essentially, you start on the sausage factory floor and stay there.
    The working culture certainly won't be that of being on call twenty four hours a day either as the staff won't have any incentive, monetary or otherwise, to do so as they're aware that their factory exists simply because it's cheap.
    This will only attract staff who only stay for a short period of time then leave due to boredom, often with a trail of negligence in their wake due to their inexperience and the inexperience of the management.

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  • It is curious that IHateBPP is so against this as to be posting the same comment on the website of two legal publications.
    It is an interesting idea. The difficulty will be how to sell this as a "good" career opportunity for lawyers who may otherwise want to be more involved in the litigation process. Equally, how many other firms may look at other parts of their business (e.g. real estate) and consider whether it could be more cost effectively run from a cheaper part of the country?

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  • There is no such thing as Northern Ireland Law, we just have replicas of Westminister legislation called NI Orders instead of Acts.
    I myself qualified in New York and I'm currently studying my LLM in Law & International Commerce.
    Herbert Smith will reap a bounty of talent here make no mistake about it, but they already know that as they are regular visitors to both University law schools.
    They will become more competitive as a result and their quality will not miss a beat, guartanteed !!!

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  • what a waste of space you are, most commercial lawyers in NI are City trained, unlike you who trained in Burger King

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  • To IHateBPP - I'm sure those daft Paddies (of which I am one) will be able to get their heads around disclosure - it aint rocket science son! From your tone, I suspect you have haven’t secured a training contract and are feeling aggrieved. Why not move to the Province and get a piece of that disclosure pie and stop moaning on legal discussion boards.

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  • This is a rather disparaging comment.
    It is well known that what were O and A levels were harder under NI examination boards than English boards.
    I am sure there will be those who are originally from NI who then worked in either magic circle or Top 50 law firms in England who will return home and will be perfectly capable of doing the work.
    The LPC is not the be all and end all. In any event NI does have its own Institue of Professional Legal Studies.

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  • I agree with the comment above. Not only are we lawyers in NI still living in the dark ages but we also lack the intelligence to handle the "type of litigation that HS would handle".
    Notwithstanding the fact that a large number of lawyers in Belfast have come from some of the best UK/City/global firms, the moment we jump on that choppy ferry across the Irish Sea, we do somehow lose the ability to do our job "as well" as our esteemed colleagues on the mainland. Perhaps it is just the Paddy Factor...or maybe because we are all full of Guiness. Come to think of it, we are lucky we even managed to get our law degrees!
    Dismount from the High Horse IhateBPP - maybe the way you should look at it is better value for money...sure.

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  • Not sure how you justify any of those arguments.
    NI produces many high class lawyers. They have as much experience in litigation matters as most lawyers/paralegals in England bar magic circle firms. Also, the law in NI is largely the same as that in England and Wales apart from a few minor differences in land law (which are incorporated into the land law modules studied at QUB anyway).
    Finally, unlike in England and Wales, law students who qualify in NI have to pass an entrance exam before they can even begin their professional studies, unlike those in England and Wales who simply fill in application forms and hand over money. You could argue they are better prepared to take on these tasks as they have many more hoops to jump through before they can finally practise!

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  • Clearly, us lawyers in NI couldn't possibly have the brains to take on the work HS would handle.
    Don't be so arrogant IhateBPP.

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  • "the work will be done much cheaper but not necessarily as well"
    My understanding is that this is about unbundling of legal services. It is not about replacing those services entirely. More basic tasks are probably managed better outside a magic/silver circle law firm. It really doesn't matter, with work lower down the value chain, whether the lawyers are English qualified or not.
    "complex projects such as disclosure are important but can increasingly be systematised and managed in new ways"
    This is about smaller firms/outsourcing companies specialising in tasks where previously no specialism existed. Arguably, the folks in NI are looking to achieve greater things than the magic circle did with "boring tasks we can give to the trainee".

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  • It also reflects what a crazy process (and money making exercise for the lawyers and e-disclosure providers) disclosure has become. It's not something parties to litigation want, but the CPR imposes it on them and their legal advisers who are required to sign it off. It's a real shame Jackson didn't take hold of this and look to Europe for a sensible and proportionate way forward.

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  • NI has some of the best litigators in the world. It comes with the whole "divided society" lark and our propensity to argue with each other. I suggest "IHateBPP" gets his facts straight and then peddles his xenophobic rantings elsewhere.
    As a city (ie London!) trained solicitor (who, coincidentally, did complete the tortuous examination of profound legal knowledge that is the LPC) I take exception to IHateBPP's comments. NI has a proud legal tradition which is separate to that of England and Wales. Now, where is that other country that has a similarly proud legal tradition? Oh yes, that would be Scotland. And France come to think of it. And the USA. And, oh, every other country in the world. I assume that "most" [Scots][French][US] lawyers should be classed as similarly debilitated by not having completed the devious complexities of the LPC.
    And, for the record IHateBPP, you'll need to understand the concept of irony in order to fully appreciate this post. But I'll forgive you if that's beyond you.
    Now, did someone mention that Herbies want me to paginate bundles for them?

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  • IHateBPP, that has to be one of the most ill-informed comments I've ever read. There are plenty of well educated people in Belfast who will do a great job for Herbert Smith. If anything the people of Belfast should be insulted that a major law firm has decided to set up an outsourcing sweat shop in their city akin to those in India.
    No, I am not Irish nor have I ever lived in Belfast.

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  • Belfast is emerging as the new centre for LPO & BPO - there will be many more top ten or MC firms to go down this route, watch this space - what's not to like? When there is the chance to move high cost roles out of higher cost locations and with proper management of quality, maintain a service to clients.
    Offshoring, outsourced, owned & operated, all have benefit.
    Not sure that being at the bottom of the foodchain whether the support or legal side of a business is the place to be. Morale? retention? Firm ethos?
    Would like to see the recruitment spin for some of these places.

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  • Language barrier might be an issue - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unGtpBP83as&feature=related

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  • I cannot agree with IHateBPP's rather ignorant view above. I am a solicitor practising in NI but like many of my colleagues I trained in London before returning home after a number of years. Solicitors in the larger Belfast firms would have considerable experience of this sort of work and could do it for a much reduced fee when compared wth their London counterparts.

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  • Ah, duddums. A sweeping accusation from an angry vested interest.
    I am sure HS managers will be quite well placed to assess the quality of the NI lawyers they employ.
    English lawyers really have it coming to them. They think they are worth "x". It turns out that someone else can do it just as well for" X minus 50%". And, guess what - the cheaper lawyers win the work.
    It's called market forces. Get used to it.

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  • "Anonymous | 24-Nov-2010 3:17 pm", the Institute entrance test is hardly a test of anyone's ability. It's a test of who can afford the tutoring. In any event, the results of the Insitute test have been irrelevant now for years.
    As anyone who has been to the Institute knows, the "training" it offers is a joke.
    There are some good lawyers in NI but I can't imagine they will leave their firm, in NI or England, to spend any length of time in a documentation sausage factory.The only people chasing the jobs in it will be the hoardes of unpaid trainees whose training contract consisted solely of residential conveyancing, if anything.

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  • Let's just step back and look at this from the client's point of view - i.e. the person who is actually paying for the work to be done.
    (1) does this work have to be done by a 3 yr + PQE lawyer? - no.
    (2) can this work be done in the 'sausage factory' referred to above? - yes as long as it is well managed and properly controlled and supervised
    (3) can people get good job satisfaction from working on the 'sausage factory floor'? - yes many people do - as long as their employer understands the nature of the workforce and treats them accordingly. This might mean that there are ultimately fewer jobs for qualified lawyers but that is unfortunately the nature of progress.
    (4) will the client get better value for money if it is? - probably
    (5) does the legal profession have to take into account the views of its clients and change just as they are changing? - yes
    (6) remember all your clients have to give their customers better value year after year - this means learning from what has been done in the past, getting better at it, getting more efficient at it - and then passing the cost saving on to your customer.

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  • 'It's a test of who can afford the tutoring". Most of the candidates who pass exceptionally do not require tutoring (which I personally consider a waste of money better spent elsewhere). However, I cannot argue the fact that the commercial training available in NI is somewhat lacking compared to what is available in the City.
    It's worth pointing out though that the 60-80% of people who do not make it into the IPLS in the first instance pay to go over the sea to do the LPC.
    Nevertheless, as mentioned above, it is well known that NI exam boards have always been much more difficult, and the exam results much better than elsewhere in the UK. With the right training in certain commercial firms in the region, there are definitely good quality lawyers available who are exposed to a good variety of work. I've also dealt with a number of English lawyers supposedly in very respectable firms who are completely incompetent. Fact.

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  • IHateBPP - smashed.

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  • The nature of these sausage factories is also that of a dead end rather than a stepping stone to an actual career with the firm. Essentially, you start on the sausage factory floor and stay there.
    The working culture certainly won't be that of being on call twenty four hours a day either as the staff won't have any incentive, monetary or otherwise, to do so as they're aware that their factory exists simply because it's cheap.
    This will only attract staff who only stay for a short period of time then leave due to boredom, often with a trail of negligence in their wake due to their inexperience and the inexperience of the management.

    ^ 'I Hate BPP' is spot on with these comments.

    No doubt it will be staffed by one lawyer who barely spends any time in the NI office (because no decent lawyer would want to be there) and the majority of their time will be spent back in the main office, managing at arms length analysing spreadsheets.
    The grunt work will be done by the hundreds of desperate graduates itching for legal work experience. Many hoping but not realising till further down the line there is not a cat in hell's chance of a training contract . Morale will be abysmal as the employers demand the earth for a pittance.

    On the upside Im sure it will be a success and at least its creating employment.

    I don't agree with any negative comments about NI lawyers, many I have worked with have been excellent. There are good and bad apples in every jurisdiction.

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  • I think this thread has gone off the point.
    I'm sure there are many good lawyers in Ireland.
    The problem is HS is looking to save money so the jobs created in Ireland will be the factory jobs of the legal world.
    There are plenty of desperate lawyers and paralegals so HS probably knows it will have no problem attracting people to fill these factory jobs.
    I think this move is insulting to Irish lawyers because it is essentially saying we'll use the Irish as cheap labour and keep the best jobs in London.

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  • Oh what a lot of whinging over a very sensible business move that will i) save clients money, ii) provide much needed jobs in Northern Ireland and iii) at long last show law firms as having some kind of commercial awareness and innovation (which the legal profession has previously lacked).
    Without meaning to sound like a rantogram ....please stop whinging and start seeing the bigger picture. Nobody is trying to make you obsolete! The profession is just becoming more dynamic.

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  • Richard,
    Ok true enough.
    But bear in mind that this move is only possible because there are so many desparate LPC students.
    There will come a time when this is no longer the case. Then what happens?
    When tuition fees rise to £9,000 per annum I just can't believe people will be dumb enough to self-fund the LPC to earn some crappy paralegal wage which this factory will rely on.
    We'll see.

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  • "Anonymous | 26-Nov-2010 3:05 pm", people in NI over the last few years have been desperate/stupid enough to self fund their studies at NI's IPLS while taking unpaid training contracts with no likelihood of that changing anytime soon. That'll ensure there's a willing supply of entry level production operatives for sausage factories like these in NI.

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  • Herbert Smith coming to Belfast - McGrigors the end is nigh

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  • Herbertt Smith have tapped in to the fact that there is an absolute stream of talented young lawyers flowing out of Northern Ireland without the employment oppurtunities in Northern Ireland. I am from Northern Ireland and have recently qualified in England. I hateBPP is clearly a young barrister who has either failed the BPP or has failed to secure a master on completion and the green eyed monster has reared its head in him at the sight of the mass influx of Northern Irish Lawyers and Barristers in England securing brilliant positions. Basically anyone that does a law degree in northern Ireland is guaranteed a place in an English Law School as the standard is so low. I think more of these big firms would do well to tap in to the resource of Northern Irish lawyers. Also on these large scale commercial cases document analysis is a vital cog in the operation and the steps in learning the trade. I for one think its a wonderful oppurtunity to work up the ladder

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  • So much for this being a great opportunity for people, even a sausage factory would pay more than Herbert Smith.

    http://www.rollonfriday.com/TheNews/EuropeNews/tabid/58/Id/1096/fromTab/36/Default.aspx

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