Allen & Overy launches Belfast office, underlining NI's 'first mover advantage' in Legal Process Outsourcing

February 2nd 2011:

Allen & Overy has announced the opening of an office in Belfast in Autumn 2011. It will be the location for a Support Services Centre delivering some core internal business support processes, as well as a Legal Services Centre delivering some of the routine or less complex elements of legal work.

Allen & Overy has 36 offices in 26 countries, having opened 12 new offices in the past four years. This growth has caused the business to assess how efficiently it is operating. Remodelling the organisation in this way aims to ensure its long-term competitive position.

Commenting on the launch, Wim Dejonghe, Global Managing Partner said the decision 'follows a review of our support services in London. These proposals are about reshaping the firm for the future and asking ourselves: Are we operating in the most efficient and cost effective way possible?'

"Unfortunately this involves taking some tough decisions and looking at both what our competitors are doing and what our clients expect us to do. That’s why it is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we understand that our proposals will come as a surprise and be upsetting for those staff whose roles are potentially affected. We will do everything we can to support those staff and are committed to treating them professionally and sensitively.

"The reality is that the way global legal services are being delivered is changing. We have to meet that challenge and proactively offer increased efficiencies and alternative resourcing to our clients, but with the reassurance and quality they expect from Allen & Overy. Establishing capacity to do this in-house in Belfast guarantees that quality and value, while minimising any risk. Ultimately, we are doing what our clients do: evolving to reshape our business and how we deliver it.”

Allen & Overy already makes use of a variety of alternate resourcing options in response to client need. These include Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), offshoring work within its global network and remote or virtual workers.

Allen & Overy's Business Improvement Unit, formed last year under director Gill Smith, is consolidating the learning from these programmes into a structured and systematic approach to create a suite of options. Part of this is the Legal Services Centre.

A small team within Allen & Overy's Legal Services Centre will work with the rest of the business to explore areas where they can provide transaction support to our global practice areas, enabling them to offer supplementary resource options for routine or less complex elements of their legal work. Partners will have a menu of legal services to offer clients from the new office, which should be attractive to them for certain elements of their transactions.

In deciding to launch an office in Belfast, Allen & Overy examined a number of locations around the world. Northern Ireland is particularly attractive due to its highly regarded education system, and number of quality legal and other graduates. This quality, combined with government agency incentives, were key factors in deciding the location.

The Belfast office of Allen & Overy SSF Ltd will be located at 68 Donegall Quay in Belfast.