It’s Isambard Kingdom Brunel who’s credited with linking the West Country and London, but it seems law firms are trying to outdo the old engineer.
Simmons & Simmons has become the latest City firm to plan a Bristol launch in a move aimed at achieving more efficient ways of working.
London and national rivals have beaten Simmons to it: Irwin Mitchell and CMS Cameron McKenna have already capitalised on the low-cost environment and the local insurance market, while RPC raided Camerons earlier this year for a Brizzle launch.
But the big boys from outside have a problem.
They all say they want to hire en masse, but that could be easier said than done, especially with the Co-op hunting down 150 recruits for its legal business, mostly in Bristol. And who would want to leave a local mainstay such as a Burges Salmon, an Osborne Clarke or a Bond Pearce, where lawyers do proper corporate work for proper local clients, to join what’s effectively a London firm’s outsourcing unit?
Also, how many London lawyers are that keen to move to Bristol, despite the supposed lifestyle benefits?
But with people debating whether we’re in a recession or not and whether the job market’s on the up or the down, Bristol might be just the place to find a gig.
It could even be the biggest revolution to hit the City since Brunel designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge.