Herbies to send corporate and property due diligence work to Belfast

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is set to expand its Belfast-based legal support unit to include corporate due diligence and real estate work.

The Northern Ireland base, which currently only handles disputes support, will offer the new capabilities from March 2013, after opening in the city in April 2011 (24 November 2010).

It will start off supporting the London corporate practice and the London transactional real estate practice, as well as asset management and due diligence on large portfolio transactions.

The firm said it is also in the early stages of developing a Belfast-based support for its funds group.

It opened with 26 full-time employees, including 19 fee-earners, and has since expanded to a current staff headcount of 65, including 58 fee-earners.

“The rapid expansion of the team has been led by the high client demand for the competitive and efficient document review service provided by the Belfast office,” the firm said.

HSF UK corporate head Scott Cochrane said in a statement: “Our move is strongly aligned with our clients’ interests.  Corporate clients are increasingly looking to their lawyers for more imaginative approaches to the management of due diligence and other document-intensive tasks.  Our Belfast office will enable us to offer clients a very attractive combination of quality, efficiency and value for money to support clients in their major transactions.”

UK and Emea real estate head Don Rowlands added: “We were quick to see the huge potential for our real estate clients of the value for money we might be able to offer by developing an offering in the Belfast Office for certain types of real estate work, for example more routine asset management work which we know is increasingly fee sensitive in the current market.

“We will tailor the offering in Belfast to the needs of individual clients and will be discussing opportunities on a client-by-client basis going forwards.”

The firm was granted £208,000 of taxpayers’ money to launch in Belfast (4 February 2011).