Ashurst targets 50% headcount growth in Glasgow by 2019 as firm draws up freelance resource

Ashurst is aiming to grow headcount in its Glasgow legal services centre by 50% within the next 18 months, as the firm puts together a pool of freelance lawyers to support the base.

The centre, which launched in 2013 with seven legal staff and one support staff member, has since grown to around 250 staff. It provides business support to the firm’s global network of offices, as well as lower cost legal services referred to as ‘legal sourcing’.

Its launch was supported by a £2.4m grant from Scots economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, provided it reached a target of employing 300 staff at the base within five years – a timescale that runs to August next year.

Of the current staff in the office, 190 provide business support services such as IT, finance and compliance. The rest of the base comprises around 50 legal analysts, four lawyers and six legal technologists, who are part of Ashurst Advance, the firm’s resource, process and technology R&D arm. The firm is planning to increase the number of legal analysts in the base to 100.

Ashurst is also looking to recruit freelance lawyers to support the office’s legal analysts. It currently has around five flexi-working lawyers on its books, and is planning to recruit from the firm’s alumni network and wider legal market to build up the group.

Ashurst Glasgow managing partner Mike Polson (pictured), who is also co-head of innovation and a director of Ashurst Advance, said: “The office will continue to grow significantly, on both the legal service and business support side. Within our legal teams, we are looking at increasing headcount by 50% over the next 12-18 months.

“We have to look at how can we do more of the same work for an even wider group of clients and also how can we deliver new areas of support and move the business forward. When we look at our own business rationale and the client drivers, those pressures have intensified.

“The addition of freelance lawyers will allow the firm to grow the scale and scope of the support it provides to the wider network in response to client needs.”

Ashurst uses artificial intelligence provider Kira for tasks such as document review, and Polson added the aim is to use that on more work undertaken at the centre.