Hogan Lovells to launch onshore low-cost centre in Birmingham

Hogan Lovells is to open a low-cost legal centre in Birmingham headed by its former global private equity head Alan Greenough. 

Greenough, who was initially expected to retire from the firm after stepping down as private equity co-head in December (23 December 2013), will relocate to Birmingham to manage the 20-lawyer office.

UK head Susan Bright said the base would be an “extension” of the London office, meaning it will offer less complex aspects of work which has already been instructed through the City. No clients will go directly to Birmingham. 

The project was driven forward by the firm’s international management committee, with some partners outside the committee consulted on the move. Staff were informed about the opening of the new base, the Legal Services Centre, today (3 March 2014).

The office is set to open this autumn, with the firm looking to hire up to 20 lawyers to work on areas such as document review processes, due diligence and real estate licensing.

The news comes weeks after Hogan Lovells transferred a large proportion of its support network to a low-cost office in South Africa (3 February 2014). The firm expects the Johannesburg office to house 20 employees when it opens in the second quarter of 2014, the majority of which will be new staff members.

Bright is leading the firm’s UK and Africa strategy and is understood to have pushed forward both launches. In a month’s time she will also bring in a legal project manager, a new job for the office, with the person in question responsible for setting up a team to focus on areas such as pricing structures.

It is one of a number of City firms to have set up low cost support centres outside of London. Earlier this month Ashurst unveiled plans to boost its presence in Glasgow with the aim of making it the fourth largest office in the firm’s network (24 February 2014). The firm opened its Scotland base last year under the guidance of high-profile former Dundas & Wilson partner Michael Polson (12 June 2013).

Belfast has been the city of choice for Herbert Smith Freehills and Allen & Overy, which together received almost £3m of taxpayers’ money to help fund their operations in Northern Ireland (4 February 2011). It has proved a succesful venture for both firms with A&O shifting US and European offices to Belfast last year (24 January 2013) while HSF launched a pilot scheme to explore how its Belfast office could support the firm’s Australian disputes practice in January (20 January 2014).

Hogan Lovells unveiled its 2013 financial results last week, posting a record global turnover along with double-digit growth in average profit per equity partner (PEP) to $1.2m (£721,000) (27 February 2014).