Law firm says Northern Ireland central to success
Belfast office praised as a 'centre of excellence'
The head of the Belfast support office of an international law firm has said that Northern Ireland has become central to the company's success.
Corporate firm Allen & Overy – which is one of the so-called 'Magic Circle' of top five law practices in the world – yesterday posted a rise in pre-tax profits of £10.7m to £496.7m and a rise in turnover of £6.8m to £1.19bn.
The firm first opened in the Obel building at Donegall Quay in Belfast in November 2011 and now employs 318 people – only four of whom are not Northern Ireland natives – in a 'support services and legal services centre'.
Belfast head Andrew Brammer said Belfast deals with more than 20,000 legal documents a year and is regarded as a 'centre of excellence' by the firm rather than a 'back office'.
"This is not some shed on an industrial estate – Allen & Overy is regarded as one of the global elite law firms and Belfast has been at the heart that," he said.
"The cost and efficiency of operating here as well as the qualities of the workforce has meant that our Northern Ireland operation has played a key role in our growth, which is why we are adding more staff and expanding further than we originally anticipated."
Mr Brammer said he believed the mood among business in the province had improved.
"The business climate is much more positive than when we first arrived in 2011 and we feel that Belfast and Northern Ireland has never been more attractive to foreign direct investment.
"There is certainly more money in the Northern Ireland economy and more positivity.
"Some of the more recent announcements of firms coming to Northern Ireland, are by no means financially or globally insignificant companies.
"When people, even in different sectors, see the likes of us expanding into Northern Ireland, they will take notice."
Belfast staff work in finance, IT, document and creative services, human resources, marketing, library and legal services.
The company looked at 20 locations worldwide before deciding that it would invest in Belfast, which is now home to the company's third largest office by headcount in the firm's network of 42 worldwide.
In January, the firm announced plans to bring a further 67 roles to Northern Ireland, taking the office headcount to 384.
It has now leasing another floor in the Obel building.