World's biggest law firm optimistic about expanding new Belfast base
The world's largest law firm, Baker & McKenzie, could grow its newly opened Belfast base further in the coming years, the company chairman has said.
Eduardo C Leite said he was "optimistic" about his company's ambitions over expanding its workforce here, as the law firm officially moved in to its new home at the City Quays 1 building at Clarendon Dock yesterday.
Some 100 staff of a total of 260 have already started work in both business services and legal work for the firm at its new global services centre in Belfast.
But speaking to the Belfast Telegraph during the grand unveiling of its new city hub, Mr Leite said those job numbers could grow in the future.
"It's early days. The pace we are moving, I'm optimistic at some point in time we will sit down and look at the future.
"The quality of the talent has exceeded our expectations. That makes me optimistic about our ambitions."
And he praised the talents of the workforce here. "It's been amazing and very fast-paced, from the building to the premises, the quality and the technology.
"I think the talent we have been able to attract has been surprising and how fast they blended with our teams worldwide."
He said the issue of cheaper staff costs was one of the reasons which first attracted the company to set up shop here.
"Originally that was one of the requisites that we were looking for. Competitive position, because clients are demanding the best quality for the lowest prices.
"But we were impressed with the support and the mentality here."
Founded in 1949, the firm is now the world's largest law firm - boasting 77 offices spread across 47 counties.
It employs some 11,000 people across the globe.
Finance Minister Arlene Foster - who attended the new office launch - said Baker & McKenzie "are very pleased with what they have seen here in Belfast and comment has been made that we under-promised and over-delivered and that is a very good benchmark to have".
Mr Leite said his firm's search for a location for its global services centre took two years and covered eastern Europe, South America and Africa.
It opted for Northern Ireland last year and had been working out of temporary offices in the city centre prior to becoming the anchor tenant in the new City Quays 1 building.
"Northern Ireland ticked all the boxes, from the quality of the people, the attitude, the location, being in Europe made also a big difference for us, and the language. It has all exceeded our expectations in a matter of one year since we started. We are extremely happy."
It's the latest major law firm to expand or set up here.
In October, London-based firm Allen & Overy announced it was adding a further 100 jobs to its already 380-strong workforce.
And in April this year, US legal services firm Axiom revealed it was doubling its Belfast workforce with the creation of almost 100 new high-paid jobs.