Belfast Telegraph

Law firm on target to create 300 jobs in Belfast

By Clare Weir

Global law firm Allen -amp; Overy is on target to deliver a promised 300-plus new jobs in Belfast just 16 months after coming to the city.

This time last year the Belfast Telegraph reported how the opening of the company's support services centre in the Obel building sparked a rush of 4,200 applicants for 190 jobs.

250 staff are now in place with recruitment ongoing for a further 35. And with five of the six floors of the office building rented out and an option on the remaining floor, further expansion has not been ruled out.

Invest NI offered £2.5m of assistance to the firm, which chose Belfast from a final shortlist of three locations - including Budapest and Cairo - from a long list of 20 to house its third biggest office in the world.

The facility provides IT, finance, human resources, business services, business development, risk management and library services to offices of Allen -amp; Overy around the world.

The firm originally said it wanted 225 roles filled by Easter 2012, with 300 in place in five years' time.

Almost all of the candidates so far are from Northern Ireland, with only four existing staff choosing to relocate from the UK, with Andrew Brammer, head of the Support Services Centre moving his wife and family from England.

Already staff have been seconded to areas like Istanbul, Frankfurt and Paris and at Allen -amp; Overy's global partners conference in Monte Carlo recently, the whole event was set up and managed by a team from Belfast.

Mr Brammer said he had been overwhelmed by the scale of growth in Belfast.

"About 22% of our revenue comes from five of our offices around the world and the English language documents that help support those deals come through Belfast 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.

"The team here are responsible for hitting very important deadlines. It is a very fast-paced working environment and the quality of the workforce here has been fantastic.

"We are an employer of choice, we are still growing, and we hope to continue to grow. The global board of the firm were here in June and they were incredibly positive in terms of the atmosphere and professionalism and the location."

So confident is Allen -amp; Overy of its future here, that the company has partnered South Eastern Regional College (SERC) and Grafton Employment Group to create Northern Ireland's first Document Skills foundation course. The course, which enrolled 20 trainees in Lisburn, includes training in legal text processing, speed keying and digital transcription.