Posted 27 June, 2017 OBI BLOG
It’s been a pleasure to act on the deal that takes law firm Weightmans’ 150-strong team to No. 1 Spinningfields, the jewel in the crown of Manchester’s most successful business district.
The legal sector is one of enormous importance to Manchester’s ongoing success. It’s a part of the local economy that’s often overlooked, and the business media can hardly be blamed for that – there’s always a hot new sector with thrusting entrepreneurs to get behind – the high growth tech businesses, the food and drink operators. Especially now that the search for North West-made “unicorns” seems to be the in-thing, tech in particular is a big focus.
One thing all firms need is professional services. And year in year out, the law firms and accountancies support the city’s growth, all the while evolving in their own way. Not enough credit goes to these firms, which are continually the ones that move the city’s narrative onwards.
Down the years, it has been the lawyers and other professionals that have demanded better space, signing for pre-lets that allow ambitious projects to happen that would otherwise prove impossible to stack up.
Professionals commit, other companies follow, supporting retail and leisure appears, the appeal of city centre residential grows. The lifestyle offer improves, and business has a smart, urban workforce to call on. That’s the virtuous circle of modern cities.
Manchester’s story since the mid-1990s has had professionals to the fore. The building of Barbirolli Square and the Bridgewater Hall was made possible by professionals committing to big pre-lets. At each stage of Spinningfields’ development, law firms were there to make things happen, right to the present, with the likes of Squire Patton Boggs, Browne Jacobson and now Weightmans at No. 1 Spinningfields and Shoosmiths creating groundbreaking workspace at XYZ.
What Shoosmiths’ new space does for the firm is spell out very clearly that this is a forward-thinking firm, strong enough to do something different, keen to work in new ways.
OBI have worked with some inspiring businesses in the sector and most of them are of a similar mind, we think. They realise their workspace has to be about making things open and collaborative, a supportive environment to help people do their jobs as well as they can.
In the look and feel of their workspace, advisory firms of all types shouldn’t be a million miles from the companies they work with. While there are differences in a law firm’s requirements – more confidential and private spaces, for example – there’s no reason that a professional firm’s workspace should appear vastly different to other businesses.
What’s important is that it looks and feels right for your business, rather than being an off-the-peg solution. It must do everything possible to promote your brand and values. In competitive markets such as legal services, spelling out the things that make your firm different has to be first and foremost in your thinking.