Ashurst to rejig Glasgow support offering with introduction of qualified lawyers

Ashurst’s low-cost support base in Scotland is to rejig its business model by adding at least two qualified lawyers to the office by the end of the year. 

According to insiders the majority of work coming through Ashurst’s Glasgow office has been instructions from a financial institution client, leading to the firm’s decision to pull in at least two qualified finance lawyers. 

The firm’s Glasgow office currently houses 100 employees, 13 of which are non-qualified ‘legal analysts’ and the remainder back office staff. However, the growth of the office is gaining pace and it expects to contain 30 legal analysts by mid-summer, and 60 by February 2015. 

It means the base will become the fourth largest in Ashurst’s global network, behind London, Sydney and Melbourne.

Glasgow head Mike Polson confirmed that he was looking to bring in a raft of qualified lawyers as part of the office’s next stage of development. However he did not want to comment further while the hiring process was in place.

In February he told The Lawyer that Ashurst intended to increase the quality of work done in Scotland over the coming years (24 February 2014).

While its cohort of legal analysts – a new position for the firm covering elements of trainee and paralegal roles – are currently primarily working in document production and data rooms, they will take on increasingly complex work such as drafting contracts and documentation.

The establishment of Ashurst’s Glasgow office was announced last June, following discussions between Ashurst and Scottish Development International (SDI), a joint venture between the Scottish Government and its economic development agencies (12 June 2013).

SDI agreed to give Ashurst £2.4m in public funding if it reaches 300 Glasgow staff within five years. 

At the time, managing partner James Collis described the target as “ambitious”, but the firm’s accelerated expansion suggests that the figure could be reached ahead of schedule.

According to management consultancy OMC Partners, by 2019 every firm in the UK 100 – those with a turnover of £22.3m or above – will have some form of alternative sourcing such as a low-cost support centre. 

“Most will choose to set up their own legal support centres to carry out routine procedural and regulatory legal work,” predicted OMC director David Ellis, who said there are currently 20 firms in the UK legal market planning to follow in the footsteps of firms such as Ashurst by sending areas of work to a regional UK office.

Read more in this week’s cover feature.