Legal sector blossoms on Quayside 

October 6, 2017

Specialist commercial property writer Chris Dobson reflects on the news that a major new legal firm has acquired space in Newcastle

It was hardly surprising that the news of a major international law practice acquiring office space on Newcastle’s Quayside, got such good media coverage. Not only was it a quality letting, there was a promise of many jobs, and it was the practice’s first presence outside London, writes Chris Dobson.

Norton Rose Fulbright LLP (NRF), the major international law practice, has taken the 6950 sq ft first floor in Northumberland Estates’ Quayside House, Newcastle upon Tyne, on a new 10-year lease. Cushman & Wakefield advised NRF.

Chris Pearson, partner at Gavin Black & Partners, who advised Northumberland Estates, says the letting is, “major news for the city”.

He continues: “This is Norton Rose Fulbright’s first presence in the UK outside London, confirming Newcastle’s importance as a service sector location. By taking space in Quayside House, the Quayside location as a legal hub, is under-scored given both Bond Dickinson and Ward Hadaway have major presences nearby as well as Newcastle’s combined court,” says Chris.

The letting follows recent lettings at Quayside House to Aon and Tilney Bestinvest Group, who respectively took 2107 sq ft and 1514 sq ft, on the second floor.

Michael O’Driscoll, senior asset manager at Northumberland Estates, reflect on the letting: “Securing Norton Rose Fulbright is a massive coup for Quayside House and for the wider region.

“North-Shoring, the process of moving office functions out of London to the northern regions, has become increasingly common in recent years, as a means of reducing operational costs,” he adds.

“The North East offers excellent value for money, when compared to other regions, as well as benefitting from a high quality and loyal labour pool. Attracting a high-profile organisation, such as Norton Rose Fulbright, is testament to this, and we are delighted they have chosen Quayside House as the Regional base outside of London.”

Norton Rose Fulbright, revealed the specifics of the move, which is to open a Newcastle Legal Process hub, creating around 100 new jobs locally, over the next two to three years.

The firm has been running a Legal Process Hub in the city for over a year, as a pilot project. The Legal Process Hub currently employs a team of 28, which consists lawyers, non-lawyers, paralegals, legal technologists and process designers. This number is set to increase, following the transition to the new premises next month.

The Legal Process Hub, delivers legal process efficiencies, trials the use of new innovative legal technology and collects and analyses data for research for the benefit of clients and the firm.

Martin Scott, managing partner of Norton Rose Fulbright, Europe, Middle East & Asia, comments:

“There are a number of reasons, as to why, Newcastle is ideally placed for Norton Rose Fulbright, including access to a strong pool of local talent, that is able to support our efforts globally, and the city’s strong and growing reputation for innovation and technology.

“Expanding the team outside London also allows us to trial emerging technology and working practices, including agile working, in a structured way.”

He adds: “The Legal Process Hub approaches legal work in a new way and is developed as a centre of excellence with a range of capabilities, which can be flexed and deployed either to support our internal teams in delivering a component of a service to clients, or to deliver a client service in a new and dynamic way.

“Our investment in technology, as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning will be a growth enabler to drive process efficiencies both at the Hub, and as part of how we deliver legal services generally.”

The news prompted some enthusiastic support from leading opinion-formers such as Newcastle City Council’s, Pat Ritchie, who points out that, Newcastle, “is a business friendly city with good transport connections and a talented workforce”.

She adds: “It is also a growing centre for technology, creative and professional services. I very much welcome the decision by Norton Rose Fulbright to invest in the city, which will see the creation of new jobs. This commitment underlines Newcastle’s ability to retain and attract high quality employment and bolsters our efforts to create a strong and diverse economy.”

Catherine Walker, director of Inward Investment at Invest Newcastle, adds: “The move further strengthens the professional services sector operating out of Newcastle. What’s more, the work coming out of the Legal Process Hub chimes with the City’s status as a leader in new technology for business.

“As a ‘smart city’, Newcastle continues to drive forward its status as an innovative northern City with a compelling offer for national and global business.”

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