Q&A with Olivia Balson – Head of Legal Services Centre (LSC), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Firm/Position… Head of Legal Services Centre (LSC), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. The LSC is a part of the Freshfields Global Centre based in Manchester.
Making the move to a different market is never easy. How have you settled in to life in Manchester?
On a personal level, really well – me and my family are loving the North West. Everyone is very welcoming. It’s been fun! For the LSC, the team we have recruited here in the LSC are brilliant. They are all committed and motivated to ensure the success of the Global Centre – they are always helping me out and telling me how to get from A to B!
What are the driving factors behind making a large move like this and do you expect to see others follow your example and move ‘up north’?
We saw the Global Centre as an opportunity to create a global operating platform for the firm. This enables us to support our lawyers in delivering outstanding service to our clients, wherever they are in the world.
In choosing a location for the Global Centre, finding high quality people was our highest priority and Manchester/the North West region offers a very deep talent pool, for both legal and business services. We have not been disappointed! We have been particularly impressed with the wealth and depth of the talent available, across all disciplines.
There has been a growing trend of law firms moving some elements of their operations to different locations. Each firm has approached it slightly differently but it’s clear there is some value in delivering parts of our work in a different way.
How is the office looking to evolve in Manchester over the next 2 years?
Over the next two years we hope to expand the services we offer from the Global Centre – both on the LSC and business services sides.
Although early days yet, we are really encouraged by how well the Global Centre has been welcomed so far both in the North West, and also in our firm. We are feeling optimistic. And I hope this is demonstrated by our plans to move to new premises in early 2017, located by Spinningfields, close to Manchester city centre.
What advice would you give to an ambitious young lawyer looking to make their way in the legal profession?
Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way and be authentic. Build a network of contacts who can help and guide you to where you want to be.
What are you most proud of? Workwise – building a LSC team here in Manchester that is recognised and valued by the rest of the firm globally. Within the LSC itself, the team have a fantastic positive attitude and team spirit.
If you could start your career over again, what would you be now and why?
A dentist. My Dad, who is now retired, was a dentist and it was something I tried on work experience but I kept fainting… With hindsight, I wish I had tried harder not to faint – he would have loved me to follow in his footsteps!