Osborne Clarke moves HQ to London

After 25 years Bristol-born Osborne Clarke calls London office home

Osborne Clarke (OC) long had to ward off accusations that, as a Bristol firm, it was underweight in the City and had little chance of competing with upper mid-market corporate beasts with HQs firmly in the Square Mile.

But lateral hires, running at around 10 a year, mean the firm could count 50 partners in London last week, overtaking Bristol in terms of partner headcount. And now, more than 25 years after it launched in London, OC has finally admitted the City base is its HQ.

“Given our focus on growth in London and internationally we have considered London as our headquarters for quite a while,” says CEO and managing partner Simon Beswick. “Some say your headquarters is where your managing partner sits. That works for me as I operate out of London more than anywhere else. We’d say the shift in growth to London started three years ago and was set about two years ago. Since then I have averaged two-thirds of my time in the UK from London.”

The process culminated in the past four months with the recruitment of the likes of YouView head of legal John Davidson-Kelly, banking partner John Pike, previously of Dundas & Wilson, and former Eversheds corporate head Mark Spinner. The failed merger talks with Field Fisher Waterhouse were part of the same story.

It is certainly a smoother head office transition than some. West Country peer Clarke Willmott underwent three HQ changes in three years in the late 2000s, from Truro to Bristol to Birmingham. OC has upgraded in just one move.