Every year the Legal 500 divides law firms into different tiers depending on their size, achievements and growth, and this year’s report showed that the Manchester legal market is more buoyant than ever, with large numbers of solicitors opting to work at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
The strength of the UK’s regional legal centres was also highlighted in a report published this week on the state of legal services by TheCityUK. Manchester emerged as the strongest regional centre in terms of legal employment, with around 12,000 people working in legal services in 2015 – the most recent figures available – compared with 8,000 in Birmingham and Leeds. All of which proves that while the June 2016 referendum may have caused a slight blip, the trend for business in the region hasn’t weakened as a result.
So just what is driving law firms up the M6? The authors of the latest edition of the Legal 500 review attribute the legal sector’s continued growth to the city’s broad industrial base, growing tech sector and government investment in schemes such as the Northern Powerhouse. It’s true that there’s recently been a wave of expansion in the north, with several large corporations, including the BBC, and Google all moving aspects of their businesses from London to Manchester, lured by reduced office and staffing costs and the ability to increase profits without compromising on quality. And to capitalise on this commercial activity, a growing number of international and City law firms are choosing Manchester as their northern base.
The report’s authors also mention the intense competition that now exists in the city as a direct result of new entrants. This obviously means that companies must compete to retain the best staff, particularly as major accountancy firms are also continuing to drive the recruitment of senior lawyers as they bolster their legal practices. Here at Glaisyers, we currently employ over 60 people in the North West, and are looking to increase our workforce by 10% in the next 12 months. An £850k refinancing package, provided by NatWest, will give us the flexible capital needed to attract new staff and develop our marketing, training and IT systems. This will enable us to achieve our objectives to attract new talent and support our staff in developing new business streams while supporting change so we can be more efficient in what we do. But whilst it’s great that some big brands are being attracted by the merits of the Northern Powerhouse, Glaisyers is focusing on the foundation of the northern business sector, SMEs and owner managed businesses. We see a real place in the market for an SME sized law firm run by owner managers who specialise in supporting and working alongside the SMEs who make up 99.9% of businesses here.
As investment continues to pour into the city and the cost of living and running a business in London continues to rise, the number of leading law firms and talented lawyers making their mark in the north is only going to increase. There’s certainly never been a more exciting time to be a lawyer in Manchester.