Ashurst global law firm raises the bar for service delivery from Scotland

Since opening its Global Centre of Excellence in August 2013, progressive global law firm Ashurst has found that Glasgow is the perfect location to expand its full range of business-critical functions. The firm is benefiting from the city’s high calibre graduates to help transform how it delivers its legal services to its clients across the globe.

A strategy to transform service delivery

Ashurst's Glasgow centre has quickly become a core part of the firm's global operations, contributing to both service excellence, new revenues and profitability. From its initial ambition to grow from eight employees up to 150 colleagues in its first two years of operation, the firm now employs well over 400 staff. 

In 2013, Ashurst, which employs over 3,000 staff in 28 offices across 15 countries, recognised that the legal services sector lagged other industries in how business critical services were delivered, including IT, finance, human resources and risk.

The firm saw that other industries had benefited from the consolidation of these services and a clear focus on process improvement. It wanted to replicate this success, together with the application of new technologies, to provide increased efficiencies to clients while continuing to provide high value legal advice. It therefore sought to create a Centre of Excellence as part of a clear strategic commitment to transformation in delivery in both legal services and business services.

Glasgow top for skills, property and support

In choosing a location for the centre, the firm had to be confident that all skills needs could be met, but also that there could be ongoing support from the public sector which would help the firm realise its ambitions.

Following a thorough review of competitor locations and being assured of the skills and property offering, Ashurst chose Glasgow. The public sector demonstrated its commitment to the investment with support of £2.4 million from Scottish Enterprise (Scotland's national economic development agency) directly linked to the creation of new roles.

'Glasgow has significantly exceeded our expectations'

A core element of the vision for the Glasgow centre was to provide "legal excellence with efficient delivery," said Mike Polson, Partner and Head of Advance Delivery at Ashurst. "The global contribution from Glasgow has significantly exceeded Ashurst's high expectations," added Mike, with Glasgow now the transformation engine room for service delivery and will continue to attract more complex functions as the firm’s transformation continues.

"Replicating the culture and quality for which Ashurst is known, while driving greater operational efficiency, is an exciting opportunity. Our Glasgow office is shaping an alternative legal model and career structure in Scotland, benefiting from the high number of exceptional legal graduates."

Mike Polson, Partner and Head of Ashurst Advance Delivery

Mike Polson, Partner and Head of Ashurst Advance Delivery

Innovative approach to legal services

It would perhaps have been easier for Ashurst to focus simply on shorter term efficiency and cost savings, but instead Glasgow is now at the centre of a markedly different means of delivery of legal services – one which aligns with the demand from clients for innovation and efficiency to provide higher value service at competitive rates.

Critical to the centre’s success has been the ability to recruit and subsequently develop staff to be able to take on greater responsibilities and handle increased complexity.

The scale of the operation in Glasgow has allowed staff to gain experience of different business areas and offer career progression to motivated, ambitious and talented individuals. This has also included significant participation in programmes run by local partners including Scottish Enterprise’s Business Improvement Academy and close collaboration with several Scottish universities – an important pipeline of talent for the firm.

Ashurst LLP office at Central Exchange in Glasgow

Investing in skills and future talent

The commitment to staff development has seen staff move into leadership roles, locally and globally since 2013, including regular client engagement to demonstrate the offering – a far cry from a traditional back-office centre and testament to the talent available to investors in Scotland.

At entry level, this ethos of staff development is also demonstrated in the firm’s successful commitment to apprenticeships, recruiting young people to ensure that the firm’s future talent needs are met.

The future for Ashurst in Scotland looks bright. It has adjusted well to the COVID-19 pandemic maintaining productivity while continually innovating to improve its delivery model to clients. Scottish Enterprise will continue to be a valued partner in supporting the firm’s ambitions.

More about Ashurst's global business services in Glasgow

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