Innovative legal business Axiom has become the latest to open an operation in Belfast, with £1.6m of government support.
The Belfast “delivery centre” will employ over 100 lawyers and paralegals. Unlike at other law firm operations in the city, they will be the primary client-facing fee-earners for global companies.
Invest Northern Ireland has offered Axiom up to £1.1m of support, covering an eight year investment programme by the firm. The Department of Employment and Learning has offered up to £500,000 for skills development. Financial incentives have also encouraged Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith to open back-office operations in the city.
Northern Ireland’s employment and learning minister Dr Stephen Farry said: “Axiom’s decision to set up a centre in Belfast is not only a boost to employment but also to our skills base. The company is the leader in the rapidly growing commercial contracts outsourcing market and has developed proprietary tools, methodologies and skills, with which it will be equipping the Belfast team.”
Enterprise minister Arlene Foster added that Axiom will pay salaries “significantly above the Northern Ireland private sector median, contributing almost £4m a year to the local economy”.
Axiom is a US-headquartered practice of 800 people with 10 offices globally – including 150 people in London – and now four delivery centres. It offers both secondees and an outsourcing service to general counsel. Axiom has no partnership structure or billing targets, small offices, and allows its lawyers, who are employed, to pick and choose when they work.
Axiom said it considered other locations before choosing Northern Ireland on the basis of the availability of graduates, the quality of the local legal talent pool, high speed, cost-effective connectivity and the financial support packages on offer.
Axiom co-founder and CEO Mark Harris said: “In terms of industry norms, we are building a very different type of operation in Belfast. Our centre here is exclusively focused on client-facing teams undertaking complex work. As a result, we searched for a location which offered a high-quality talent pool of experienced lawyers and ambitious law graduates.”