Offices: the bigger the better?; Baker & McKenzie eyes Belfast for global centre

by NZ Lawyer28 Aug 2014
Does size matter? A tale of two cities (and two law firms)
Opinion seems to be split as to the size of offices law firms should have. In New York for example, there appears to a ‘less is more’ trend with firms moving from the more expensive areas to lower cost options; cutting the space-per-lawyer. This is a change from tradition but in line with other sectors. Realtors say that law firms typically occupy two or three times larger than financial or insurance firms with the same number of employees, but as the other sectors downsize even further it seems that some law firms are following suit. Image has always been a big part of the equation but attitudes change, so clients who were once impressed by their lawyer’s offices, would now pay lower fees to a lawyer with more modest surroundings. Of course, not every law firm is downsizing; DLA Piper has announced that it is doubling its space in a prestigious Florida tower. The 45,000 square feet over two floors is home to around 25 lawyers and managing partner Craig Rasile says it represents the firm’s strong position in the marketplace.
 
Baker & McKenzie to open global service centre in Belfast
Baker & McKenzie has announced its plan to open the second of its global service centres in Northern Ireland. The firm has been operating a similar office in Manila since 2000 and considered locations including Africa and Latin America before choosing Belfast. The new centre, which is due to open next month, will have a staff of around 260 and will be a hub for more frontline services than Manila, which is largely focused on the firm’s needs as a business such as HR and IT rather than client services.
 
Another financial firm enters the legal services space
A global wealth consultancy based in the small European country of Luxembourg is to begin offering legal services to its clients. Oracle Capital Group has partnered with Y and G Legal, an alternative business structure regulated by the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority. The tie-up will allow Oracle to offer legal advice to its international client base of entrepreneurs who do business in the UK. The deal follows the growing trend which has seen the likes of PwC adding legal services to its existing financial offer.
 
Former managing partner accused of stealing US$30 million from client funds
Nathan E. “Nat” Hardwick IV, the former managing partner of prestige Atlanta law firm Morris Hardwick Schneider’s residential practice has been accused of embezzling US$30 million from escrow account for his own use, according to a lawsuit. The accusation is that he used the funds from various accounts belonging to the law firm and an associated company, for his own personal gains. Hardwick has not been available for comment on the claims and it is not clear if he has been questioned. 

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