Ashurst to open low cost support base in Glasgow

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  • No doubt they can pick up Semple Fraser's old offices

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  • Effectively the whole of Scotland's top end of the market, not just City back-office functions, could act as an outsourced function for City firms if they chose to. At some of the top firms their is City level knowledge and skills, but on regional rates and regional salaries.

    There are 2 aspects to this. First, City firms could start to ferry more straight forward commoditised work (e.g. diligence) to Scottish firms - charge 75% of the current fees but pay half of the current costs.

    Second, clients themselves might increasingly make that switch. The office of Pinsents, D&W and Maclays are all capable of carrying out the majority of City work other than in highly specialised areas of finance.

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  • What are all these areas of easily commoditised legal work we keep hearing about that City firms are currently doing which could be done to an acceptable level by paralegals?

    M&A due diligence is now done on a ridiculously fast timescale and, if it is to be effective, needs an expert eye with a proper understanding of the transaction so that the review catches (and only reports on) truly material issues. Any client who is still getting a 300 page DD report listing every stationery contract needs to sack their firm, not outsource the work. A roomful of paralegals without someone to consult about every point they think may be important will just not cut it. Also what is the motivation of those paralegals (especially if they don't see this as their permanent job and are not in the same location as the transactional lawyers they need to impress) not to flick on past a point which may be important but which they don't really understand?

    Reviewing loan portfolios for transferability etc. is also trickier than it appears, although it could be done by a good trainees under close supervision of a senior associate or partner. Leaving it to paralegals in a remote location with no-one to ask about issues they don't understand is a huge risk of things getting missed - loan documents are not that standardised and change all the time. This can only be commoditised if a lawyer closely involved in the loan markets is constantly rebriefing the paralegals on what they should be looking for - and by the time they've done that they might as well review the docs themselves - or have their London trainees do so.

    Litigation disclosure exercises, where there is a clear brief (e.g. look for correspondence between or referring to specific parties or events) could of course be done by paralegals in this way, but those are exactly the kind of exercises that increasingly sophisticated software is being developed to tackle. This may still however be the most promising area.

    I cannot see where the much promised savings are and suspect they are being talked up by those who stand to make money from Legal Process Outsourcing

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  • Prime example of how short sighted DLA Piper have been in closing their Glasgow office. Hopefully Ashurst will snap up all the staff they have spent years training and then disposed of.

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  • No doubt a sensible move but it again raises the question of why firms should have so many fee earners in London.

    At a firm like Ashurst the great majority of its fee earners will not meet clients face to face during a typical transaction (and often the client will not even be based in the UK).

    So why should the client pay for them to be based in such an expensive location?

    If City firms don't themselves act then the market is likely to force their hand, as the growing number of large "national" firms - which are larger than most City firms - take increasing amounts of their business, except the most complex banking, finance and M&A work.

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  • This is clearly another misguided move for Ashurst, it 'cheapens' the provision of legal service in a top city law firm. Good luck!

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  • Perhaps he can take on the Jilted Dundas trainees to get started........

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  • Why bother about offices at all? We live in the 21st century, give people decent IT hardware and network connections and let them work wherever they want to work!

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  • A lot of very interesting points made by Old Lawyer in particular.

    Rather than treat Scotland as the new India give them the original work and reap the savings.

    It also never fails to amaze me the amount of people with a very shallow knowledge of the Law ( some of whom work fro Law Firms) are seen by some as process experts !!!

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  • Why not base themselves in Newcastle?

    There are two universities both producing students who have an understanding of English law. It is surely almost as cheap as Glasgow?

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  • Strange they chose Glasgow. There's other UK cities which seem better options, esp those with good universities nearby.

    Gateshead (with the two Newcastle Unis and Durham) would seem ideal. Likewise Manchester.

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  • and what about the actual people in London who are going to lose their jobs??? i note it says that no lawyers will lose their jobs just support staff!!!!

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