Law firm aims to play a key role in the North

John Alderton inside the new office of the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, who are one of the biggest firms to move into the new 6 Wellington Place development. 
6th April 2016.
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
John Alderton inside the new office of the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, who are one of the biggest firms to move into the new 6 Wellington Place development. 6th April 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
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With founders including one of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists and an ambitious lawyer from 19th century Bradford, Squire Patton Boggs has an illustrious past.

The international law firm is planning for a bright future with a multi-million pound investment that it hopes will place it at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse in 21st century England.

Squire Patton Boggs is investing in new offices for its lawyers in Leeds and Manchester.

John Alderton, managing partner of the Leeds office, told The Yorkshire Post that the investment demonstrates the firm’s “absolute commitment” to the North of England.

He said: “One of the things the wider market seems to say is ‘Squires is just this big global brand. Yes we can see they have that global spread but they are not really interested in the regions, not interested in Yorkshire and the North’.

“What this says absolutely, and the new premises coming on stream in Manchester as well, that there is enormous investment by the firm in the regions.

“We are absolutely committed to Yorkshire, to continuing to service Yorkshire businesses as much as global businesses and one of our sweet spots is Yorkshire businesses that are growing into global businesses.”

The firm is taking 39,000 sq ft across two floors at Wellington Place, a new office development in the growing commercial district between Whitehall Road and Wellington Street.

It will be home to 240 staff with room for growth.

Mr Alderton said: “We have been in Yorkshire for 130 years as a firm tracing our roots back. Yorkshire and our Leeds office for the last 25 years at Park Lane has been an integral part of the firm.

“It is the fourth largest office in all the offices around the globe both by turnover and by numbers so it is a natural progression for the firm to invest in new premises in Leeds.”

The firm has offices in 21 countries on five continents.

It was created following the 2014 merger of Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs, home of the late Thomas Boggs, a very well-connected Washington power broker.

The Yorkshire connection comes from Albert Victor Hammond, who started as a sole proprietor in Bradford in 1886.

Hammonds went on to become a major player in the British legal sector in the 1990s and opened offices around the world before merging with US counterpart Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in 2011.

In the highly competitive and crowded Yorkshire legal market, the firm sees its international dimension as a point of difference, adding to its expertise in areas such as restructuring, tax and corporate finance.

The firm is intensely proud of its regional roots.

Mr Alderton said: “Strategically we feel we have got a very strong platform regionally.

“We see the development in public policy as being an area that we can add even more differentiation in terms of the Patton Boggs reputation globally and particularly in Washington, in the US generally and the Middle East.

“I think we will develop a public policy offering and practice across Europe and into the UK and the capital cities throughout Europe and then into the main regional centres.

“I think public policy will be a key part of our growth plans.”

The firm has been strengthening its practice in areas like infrastructure, planning and energy in preparation for the development of the Northern Powerhouse political project to create an economic counterweight to London and the South East.

Mr Alderton said: “As a concept it is absolutely valid in trying to get the northern cities working more effectively together to exploit the opportunities we have got across the region and in some respects to stop competing in areas where quite frankly we are probably taking investment away or splitting investment.

“The idea is great. The concept of trying to get business more engaged, we absolutely support that.

“We are committed to trying to work with business to identify and exploit the opportunities that are going to come from improvements in infrastructure to investment decisions that are made right across the region.”

Squire Patton Boggs has seen three very strong years of growth at its Leeds office, according to office chief John Alderton.

He said the growth of five to seven per cent has been driven by a strong corporate market.

Mr Alderton said: “I think the region has done well out of the economic conditions and we think we have got a good pipeline of work.

“From a corporate point of view over the next 12 months, although there is a little bit of nervousness in the market, people are a little bit more cautious about prospects going forward... we have certainly seen and continue to see a good deal of transactional work.”

Gareth Harris of RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP

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