Surely firms aren’t Migrating North for the Weather?
Manchester has pricked ears amongst the City legal giants with a series of arrivals including Latham & Watkins, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Nabarro and Freshfields. This signals a new era for the established local players- even though some of the newcomers will focus on support work.
Aside from offering a cheaper alternative to London, what’s driving this migration? The starting point is that Manchester offers a healthy regional talent pool, spreading beyond the city itself in both Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield. The jobs on offer at Latham & Watkins, BLP and Freshfields are dissimilar from those looking to service the local market; they can afford to pile pressure on salary, offer quality work, and particularly for paralegals and support staff, come with a welcome notch on the CV. Sizeable regeneration projects and new infrastructure links have added greatly to the allure of Manchester for firms like Nabarro. Local projects, including a council scheme to redevelop old warehouses into commercial office space has meant that real estate deals have become some of the prime mandates. With direct flights to China from Manchester Airport starting early next year, market excitement has piqued surrounding renewed foreign investment. Meanwhile, a train station now runs directly from the airport to central Manchester improving accessibility, and the proposed second phase of the HS2 rail line offers a further chunk of legal work. Connectivity boosts activity across all sectors- not just projects, rail and infrastructure. Driven by several mid-market and larger transactions, growth is on a solid upward trajectory in Manchester- and it doesn’t look like slowing!
Whichever route they take, the market is awash with opportunities for aspiring lawyers. It is also likely that Manchester will continue to be shaped by new legal players. This offers a greater sophistication in legal services whilst lowering costs for clients, and amplifies the onus on Partners to compete and prove that they can win the high-end deals. An interesting and bright future ahead for Manchester.