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Law firm Baker McKenzie to hire 150 new staff in Belfast

By Margaret Canning

International law firm Baker McKenzie is creating 150 jobs at its services centre in Belfast, bringing its workforce here to 450.

The firm, which originally planned to have 250 staff in the city, has announced it will lease out extra space in City Quays 2 close to its existing offices to cope with the increase in staff.

Its fellow occupants in City Quays 2 include UTV, which made its first broadcast from new studios this week.

Baker McKenzie is a major employer in the legal services sector as big international firms move certain services and functions offshore to cut costs.

It opened its offices in Belfast in 2014 and later became the first tenant of Belfast Harbour block in June 2015.

Baker McKenzie provides 30 legal and business services from the Belfast office, including finance, corporate support, marketing and IT.

A spokeswoman said global clients had been impressed with the work carried out in the city during visits.

And Belfast was now carrying out services for most of Baker McKenzie's 77 offices around the world. She added: "Naturally, as client demand grows for the services our lawyers offer, so does the demand from offices using our services.

"We now regularly service the majority of our 77 offices in all regions."

James Richards, executive director of Baker McKenzie in Belfast, said: "Our lawyers and professional staff around the globe have been really impressed at what we have created in Belfast and we have become a major innovation hub for the firm.

"We have introduced a number of initiatives here that are not only benefiting our clients but have a direct impact on our financial performance.

"Having established ourselves in the city almost four years ago, our announcement today underscores our commitment to Belfast and to Northern Ireland." Joe O'Neill, Belfast Harbour's chief executive, said the construction of City Quays 2 had been a response to demand from inward investors and homegrown firms for grade A office space.

"The development has already established itself as the preferred destination for local and international business leaders," he said.

"Baker McKenzie's decision to expand into City Quays 2 is a clear testament to the quality of the space provided, its location for business and the infrastructure around it."

Other City Quays tenants include Cayan and Golf Now.

Planning permission is now being sought for a City Quays 3 development.

The trend for big legal firms to establish support offices in Belfast started with the arrival of Herbert Smith - later Herbert Smith Freehills - in 2011.

They were followed by Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie. Last month Shoosmiths announced it was expanding with a services team in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph

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