Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr will move back-office functions to Dayton, Ohio, in September. The center is expected to house as many as 190 workers in technical support, billing support, conflict checks, data entry, finance and other business and administrative functions.
No lawyers will be located at the new business center at first, but the firm plans to add some basic document-review attorneys down the road, said co-managing partner William J. Perlstein. The new setup will add efficiency and cost less than housing business services in pricey offices in major cities, he said.
At present the firm divides back-office functions between its Washington, New York and Boston offices.
"As we addressed the question of trying to consolidate, that freed us up to look outside the metro areas, where space is less expensive and we can get a business campus setting," Perlstein said. "It's a combination of cost savings and the efficiency of having everyone in one location."
The firm is still securing space for the new business center, and its not yet clear how much money it will save with the move, Perlstein said.
Wilmer is not the first firm to establish an off-site business center in a lower-cost area. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe established its global operations center in Wheeling, W.Va., in 2000. The facility now houses about 200 workers.
A number of New York firms house business services personnel in lower-cost offices in suburban New Jersey or Westchester County, N.Y., or have outsourced business functions overseas, but no other firm beside Wilmer and Orrick have moved in-house business operations so far away, Perlstein said. Several of the major accounting firms have moved back-office operations well outside of major metropolitan areas, he noted.
The firm chose Dayton because of its relatively easy flight access to Wilmer's major East Coast offices as well as the area's established technology and finance workforce. With three law schools in the vicinity as well as the LexisNexis Group's headquarters, the firm concluded that there would be an ample supply of attorneys available once it adds the document review function, Perlstein said.
Wilmer has given existing administrative and business employees the option of moving to Dayton, although it was not yet clear how many would do so. The firm has already scheduled a recruiting event in Dayton next month.