The Manchester skyline is changing and so is the legal market – it’s all looking good!

First we had Urbis, now the home of the National Football Museum, that represented the cutting edge new look of Manchester post-1996. It is still holding its own in the contemporary architectural space, but the attention for the past few years has been on the Beetham Tower. I still remember the topping-out ceremony and can’t believe that was in 2006! Since then it has soared over Manchester, well over triple the height of any other building – it’s visible from pretty much every approach road into the city. This is set to change with a number of new developments, which are going to catapult Manchester into a new era of modern city living and further urban regeneration.

Alongside this development of our property skyline, the legal world in the North West is also set to change or at least continue to develop. Over the last few years we have all seen the advancement in technology, globalisation and the advent of the Alternative Business Structure (ABS) that has galvanised law firms into change. All these factors have contributed to the creation of a far more competitive and new look legal services market. Mergers have been everywhere and previously London centric law firms have been taking a good look at the UK regions to provide cost effective, yet talented teams to service their ever demanding client base.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) opened in Manchester in 2014 and the office now has a headcount of 80, with the firm stating that it aims to build up to an office of over 200 lawyers. It is likely that this year it will take on its first group of Manchester based trainee solicitors. The office has enough depth in its practice to offer a full training contract without having to send trainees to do a seat in London. In addition to its core real estate practice it has disputes, finance and employment teams.

Then we have Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer who could become the first magic circle firm to embrace apprenticeships. Management revealed plans in April this year to bring legal apprentices into its Manchester office. The firm is also looking into offering training contracts in Manchester, though it is unclear when this will start. These top flight law firms follow well-known large regional law firms including Shoosmiths who opened in the city back in 2009, Browne Jacobson in 2012 and TLT who moved here in 2013.

Work continues to develop in this amazing City, making it a rapidly growing and really buoyant place to live and work. Latest property projects include two large development plots sitting just on the edge of the Manchester city centre, with each boasting a tower block that will finally overtake the 47-floor Beetham Tower. One of them, at 66-storeys, is set to be the highest residential block in the country.

Alongside this urban development, Manchester provides top class opportunities for lawyers. I touched on the new and progressive possibilities for young lawyers, yet there is also a thriving and very competitive market for partner and experienced solicitors and associates looking to advance their career. Firms of all sizes are actively recruiting in many practice areas and it’s showing no sign of slowing. We are seeing continual growth in practice areas that include the obvious real estate and construction, but also finance and corporate.

All of this indicates a really buoyant and rapidly expanding city which is replicated by similar sustained growth in its legal sector.

To give you a snapshot, here is a very small selection of jobs that we are working on:-

  • Employment Partner – Our client is a top 50 national law firm, looking to strengthen their employment law capability in Manchester with the appointment of a lateral hire partner. They have experienced a good phase of growth over the past few years, both organically and through strategic merger, and are now looking to further develop their employment law capability in the Northwest. They have a fantastic client base, and a modern, dynamic business and culture.
  • Banking Lawyer – The firm’s market leading banking department has an array of impressive work on offer. Acting for major banks, other financial institutions, borrowers and a number of commercial clients in the property, energy, retail and manufacturing sectors amongst others, they provide a full range of advice on finance matters. They are in expansion mode and are looking to recruit bright and ambitious solicitors to the team in the coming months.
  • Real Estate Solicitor – Our client is a full service international law firm providing legal services to an impressive client base spanning insurance, public sector, financial services and other industry sectors. The real estate team covers every aspect of commercial real estate work including planning and environmental, development, investment, asset management, funding, construction, landlord & tenant and dispute resolution. Clients include property management and development companies, health trusts and government bodies (local and central), owner occupiers and institutions, both in the UK and overseas.

If you are interested in having a chat about the Manchester legal market, whether you are a lawyer currently in the city or looking to move/return to the city, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to speaking to you!

Iona Kobbekaduwe –

T 0161 828 5415

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