Belfast skyline at night over the River Lagan

Fieldfisher has opened a new legal solutions hub in Belfast, setting its sights on a head count of 125 in the city within the next three years.

Northern Ireland’s economic development agency, Invest NI, handed over £630,000 in funding for the new local base by the London-based firm.

The new office, designed to house staff working in legal and risk management, as well as technical and business support roles, has initially launched with 14 staffers. Fieldfisher expects to increase head count almost tenfold by 2021, with around 90 hires expected to happen during this financial year.

Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick told London-based Legal Week that he sees the firm’s technology, real estate, financial markets and litigation practices making use of the new back-office center.

“The financial incentive was a sweetener, with the grant from Invest NI. But it was also the graduate talent,” said Chissick about what motivated the move. “We’re hungry for talented, energetic people to join us. Belfast has Queens University and Ulster University here, both producing a number of talented graduates, and many of our legal professionals here will be predominately law grads wanting to get into law.”

The office launch follows similar moves by firms such as Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills and Hogan Lovells, which have all opened volume service centers outside of London in order to improve efficiency.

Fieldfisher established its Belfast presence last year when it linked up with local nearshoring service provider Donaldson Legal Consulting (DLC), which provided the firm with wider negotiation and documentation capabilities.

Under the initiative, DLC head Alison Donaldson will become managing partner of Fieldfisher Belfast and oversee operations for the firm’s alternative legal services platform, Condor, which launched in January 2017.