Sheffield’s high skill set was a major draw for International Law Firm Fragomen

Sheffield’s high skill set was a major draw for International Law Firm Fragomen

20 May 2016

Photo credit: Lee Bartlett, Fragomen Worldwide

So why did Fragomen Worldwide choose Sheffield as the base for their second UK office?  We speak to Lee Bartlett, Senior Manager at Fragomen Worldwide to find out. 

When we decided that we wanted to expand our services outside of London, we looked at many different cities across the UK. Sheffield immediately became a strong proposition because of the large talent pool of highly skilled people that live in and around the city.  One of the main drivers for this talent pool and for our subsequent interests is the two large Universities right in the city centre. We held a law fair last year at the University of Sheffield because as an international firm we were interested in people who study both languages and law and this is something they excel in.  We are also talking to both Universities at the moment about running a summer placement scheme for students who want paid work experience for 3 months, making sure we access the talent we have close by. So, as you can see the Universities are a huge asset to the city and a magnet to firms like ours looking to relocate.
 
The other big draw that led us to Sheffield over other cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds were the transport links and its central location in the UK. We have a bit of a joke at Fragomen that Sheffield appears to be one hour from everywhere – Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham etc. Plus it’s currently only 2 hours on the train to London, and with it being on the HS2 line, it will only get quicker and more convenient to get down to London when we need to. To be honest, if people live in a suburb outside of London it can take them at least an hour to get into the centre of the capital! Also with technology nowadays, we find that we need to be in London less and less as we can use video conferencing so that we don’t have to travel.
 
Since we opened our Sheffield office 6 months ago we’ve recruited over 65 people and aim to grow this to 100 by 2017. The roles we have in Sheffield are mainly Iegal support roles (the people who work alongside our associates) and corporate service roles but we’ve also employed associates and paralegals who are due to start with us shortly. Despite having a significant presence in London we have only moved two members of staff from London to Sheffield so everyone else has been recruited locally. The employees from London were happy to move because of the value for money that Sheffield represents in terms of housing, schools and lifestyle.
 
We’ve found the office stock here highly competitive too, meaning we can grow our business in a sustainable manner. In London, there is a higher cost associated with growth because of the cost of real-estate. Being less than five minutes’ walk from one of the Home Office's Premium Service Centres where our clients can get a same day decision is also very useful for us.
 
Personally I love Sheffield; I like how green it is and how it has the type of close community you would find in somewhere much smaller but that it still has the cultural scene of a big city. I also find the work-life balance a lot better as the commute is a lot less stressful than the tube! I was based in London and have moved to the Sheffield office and I would say that overall the expansion outside of London has been a positive experience.
 
If you are a law firm looking to expand or relocate outside of London, I would definitely recommend Sheffield. We did look at other locations such as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester as options too but found that in terms of costs and standard of accommodation, talented workforce, transport links and employee lifestyle, Sheffield was stronger.
 
If you would like to learn more about this story and the benefits of North Shoring to Sheffield, we are holding a Q&A style event on Tuesday 24th May in the Law Society building (The Old Council Chamber).
 
If you would like to attend this event or learn more about north shoring to Sheffield, please contact the Invest Sheffield Team on 0114 223 2353 or mizan.rouf@sheffield.gov.uk