Northern Ireland

'Top law firm' brings jobs to Belfast

A top international law firm has announced it is to set up operations in Belfast creating 26 jobs for legal professionals.

Herbert Smith employs 1,400 lawyers and has offices in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The Belfast branch will employ qualified lawyers and legal assistants.

Invest NI has pledged £208,000 towards the creation of the jobs which are expected to generate £650,000 in annual salaries.

Headquartered in London, Herbert Smith is involved in a wide variety of fields particularly in dispute resolution and corporate law, its main clients are national and multinational businesses.

It counts the Bank of Ireland among its clients and advised the bank in relation to the establishment of NAMA and the implications of the Irish legislation for English loans.

It is also on the panel of lawyers instructed by NAMA to deal with UK assets.

'Attractive combination'

Sonya Leydecker, head of the firm's global disputes practice, said the decision to open in Belfast would enable Herbert Smith to offer clients "a very attractive combination of quality, efficiency and value for money".

"In particular, complex projects such as disclosure are important but can increasingly be systematised and managed in new ways. The Belfast office will make a new range of resourcing options available to clients", she said.

Graeme Johnston, the Herbert Smith partner who led the project team, said they had considered a number of location options before deciding on Belfast.

"Northern Ireland stood out for the great calibre of the available people, combined with cost competitiveness and geographical convenience. We are very grateful for the truly excellent support which we've received from Invest NI," he said.

Belfast has lost a number of corporate law jobs recently. In October, McGrigors said it would be seeking redundancies from among its Belfast staff.

The Herbert Smith Belfast office is expected to be up and running by the end of April 2011.

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