Herbert Smith has announced it will create a further 61 jobs in its newly opened Belfast office over the next five years, after receiving additional public funding of more than £500,000 from Invest Northern Ireland.
The announcement comes as Herbert Smith officially opens its Belfast office, where it already employs 26 full-time employees including 19 fee-earners.
The firm said that client demand for the Belfast office has led it to recruit a further 12 fee-earners, who will join in the coming months, and it has now confirmed that it will add a further 49 Belfast jobs over the next five years.
Invest Northern Ireland has now offered a total of £734,000 of support towards the creation of jobs in the office. The positions are expected to generate £3.1m annually in salaries and benefits in Northern Ireland by 2016.
In addition, Herbert Smith is contemplating adding another 51 roles in the Belfast office, subject to demand, which would also be part of a five-year plan and would increase the annual salaries and benefits in Northern Ireland to £4.7m.
The new office, led by a management team comprising office director Libby Jackson, legal quality manager Lisa McLaughlin and operations manager Aiya Boranbayeva, is focusing on large scale document-intensive aspects of litigation, arbitration and regulatory investigations.
One of Herbert Smith’s prime considerations in choosing Belfast was Northern Ireland’s pool of high-quality graduates and professionals combined with a significantly lower cost base compared with London and other offices.
The vast majority of the team is made up of people hired from the local market or qualified lawyers from Northern Ireland who have trained in England and returned home to Belfast.
Jackson commented: “Opening an office in Belfast has been a great experience for the firm. We’re particularly pleased with the very talented team of high-quality lawyers and law graduates we’ve recruited.
“Our decision to expand the team further so quickly is due to high demand and the extremely positive response from our clients to the excellence of the legal work being done in Belfast.
“As a firm, we’re enjoying being part of Northern Ireland’s legal community and have every confidence in the future growth of our operation here. We’re also grateful to Invest Northern Ireland, whose support has been, and continues to be, much appreciated.”
Invest Northern Ireland has also given £2.5m in support to magic circle firm Allen & Overy, which announced in February it would launch a business and legal support centre in Belfast, creating 300 new jobs (4 February 2011).