Clifford Chance has signed a ten-year lease for a new office in Newcastle, which the firm will move into around November 2022.
The 15,000 sq ft office is located in The Lumen, one of Newcastle city centre’s newest buildings, and is 50% larger than the present office.
Clifford Chance first expanded into Newcastle in 2018 when it acquired Carillion Advice Services and its 60 employees. The office now consists of over 100 employees.
The firm’s current Newcastle base in Partnership House is 10,000 sq ft in size, and is home to a team of paralegals and legal operations employees who provide support to its U.K. lawyers.
According to someone with knowledge of the situation, the Newcastle operation has also started to support the firm’s other offices in the U.S. and Amsterdam where the language used is predominantly English.
Firm managing partner Michael Bates said: “Our Newcastle business is the most established paralegal and technology-led team in the North East and is successfully disrupting the way we deliver high-value work for our clients.”
Given the firm’s aim of achieving net zero by 2030, Bates said that, “from a management perspective, this new building will really help us achieve that”, adding that “ESG has been high on our agenda and will continue to be”.
Lucy Nixon, head of Clifford Chance’s Newcastle office added in an interview: “Our focus is going to be on employing bright graduates and using process and technology. We’ve done a fantastic job since the acquisition [of Carillion] in supporting lawyers to do the complex work and now we want to do more of the same, there’s lots more we want to do.”
In the same interview, Bates explained that “the North is very popular” as “there is a significant talent pool”, “not everyone wants to live and work in the Southeast”, and “Newcastle is particularly good for legal tech and innovation”.
“Frankly the skill set in Newcastle that the wider management team has is unmatched,” he added. “The fact it comes at a cost advantage is an added benefit.”
He explained that, although the firm had decided to make the move prior in March 2020, it was not appropriate to sign a lease at the peak of a pandemic while still committed to the existing five-year lease.
Nixon also noted that the office will bring significant benefits from a wellbeing perspective, due to the central location shortening the length of commutes for employees. Further, being relatively near the coastline, the city also provides opportunities for rest and recuperation.