Freshfields pic

"This way, IT and document management. Come on accounts, don't dawdle at the back."


RollOnFriday understands that Freshfields is moving a large chunk of its operations to Eastern Europe.

A source told RollOnFriday that under the firm's “modernise” programme, Freshfields is planning to relocate most of its back office work to Eastern Europe. Although some of that work will be retained in its Manchester base.

The Magic Circle firm has used PwC management consultants to advise on the move, said the insider, while Freshfields Global Head of Shared Services is spearheading the project. 

Freshfields set up its low-cost office in Manchester in 2015, when it moved the majority of its UK support team and back office operations out of London. The northern hub also takes on certain types of legal work. 

The firm would neither confirm or deny whether it was planning to offshore, onshore or nearshore its operations. 

A spokeswoman told RollOnFriday: “We review our operations on a regular basis to ensure we are best-placed to deliver the optimum service for our global client base. However, we do not comment on rumour or speculation.” 

The source told RollOnFriday that the firm was planning to make an announcement in May about the redeployment, so stay tuned (or not, as the case may be).

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Comments

Anon 14 April 22 13:23

This comes as no surprise. The staff in Manchester are treated like fools and constantly made to feel sub par whilst high expectations are thrusted on them with no benefit or recognition. The global centre leadership laughing all the while making false promises of promotions and salary rises that never happen. Basically keep you until you are ruined mentally then depart haven given your soul with no reward. Freshfields is an utter joke now, too bothered about partner profit to properly fund business services. 

Anonymous 14 April 22 15:27

The UK firms engaging in the pay war are going to pay dearly in future. Look at the support in place at US firms, it's next to none. More of this to come I expect, sadly.

Anonymous 14 April 22 15:34

"Any firm that outsources staff is utter scum."

A bit racist.

What upsets you so much about the prospect of working with Eastern Europeans?

Not one of those Britain First types are you?

I hate the office. I hate WFH. I hate everything. 14 April 22 16:00

This is very interesting. Manchester was sold on the high quality graduate, native English, workforce.  I guess it was all a ruse. 

Colour me shocked.

Anonymous 14 April 22 17:33

You can find a Romanian with an MBA who speaks 4 languages to do the work for buttons and glitter.

And they don't have northern accents.

Why on earth would we give these Manichaeans any more of our English Pounds?

Anonymous 14 April 22 18:07

"You can find a Romanian with an MBA who speaks 4 languages to do the work for buttons and glitter."

...and she won a bronze at the European Youth Gymnast awards when she was younger. 

 

You just can't find that kind of talent in t'North.

Written in the stars 14 April 22 20:42

We had big changes in Manchester, center director moved to another project to lead, taken over by COO for the UK. Introduced to the new head of shared services, both who made it sound like the UK operations would be changing for the better after years of misalignment, discontent and no low pay for similar jobs in the region. Stop pretending you care, stop pretending you are bothered about the wellbeing of the staff, stop bleating on about how much you do in the community, for charity or how diverse we can be as its all lies - outward PR when internally its just box ticking. Taking everyone for granted and the turnover is ridiculous, but thats how you keep yourselves form paying market rates - just get juniors so you dont have to.

Anonymous @ Anon 15.27 14 April 22 21:55

Having worked at the German office of a MC firm for +10 years as a lawyer and now working at a US firm (though not as partner), it is interesting so see how much is possible even with substantially less support staff. 

Former FBD POW 15 April 22 08:59

I assume they’ll be moving to Hungary or Russia?  Would align with the firm’s integrity if so.

Proud European FBPE 15 April 22 11:56

Very disappointed to see so many Brexit Gammons moaning about this instead of embracing the progressive joy of Free Movement Of Capital.

This is exactly the sort of pan-European Harmony that you bigoted scum voted to try and take away from us.

Stop loving in the 50's and wake up to your inevitable future in the European Dream! If you don't love it then you're a racist!

Anonymous 15 April 22 15:20

I'm not bothered about working alongside Eastern Europeans. I won't have a job to be working alongside anybody

Anonymous 15 April 22 18:35

In what now feels like a previous life, I was working in the software industry - that is until management was temped by the fashionale trend of outsourcing. That workplace no longer exists.

These days I receive on a weekly basis offers to offshore our non fee earning positions. It is my great pleasure to immediately kill all such attempts.

Business advisor 15 April 22 20:53

No matter what the steps are taken by Freshies to save costs, it can never boost the PEP up to US firm levels. Partners are overly reliant on panel work and there are too few rainmakers with sufficient entrepreneurial spirit to generate work - it’s the revenue of the equation they need to look into, not costs. May I suggest punting most of the partners above 55 for starter, and save local jobs as a proud, ethical UK business? 

Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out 22 April 22 16:28

They didn’t use PWC they used McKinsey. 

anyway the whole back office organisation is a joke. They seem to be thinking they’re a software company trying to compete with Silicon Valley. Waste a comical amount of money. 

The new partners were elected on giving everyone more profit per partner point. Makes sense they’d get rid of the horrific waste of the IT function. Full the budget and get rid of the incompetent staff. 

Anon 22 April 22 19:17

Agree that there are no rainmakers and too much reliance on past work to bring in new work. Arrogance only gets you so far when US firms are taking your people and market share.

The relentless focus on cost just distracts from issues closer to home.

Anonymous 23 April 22 07:39

I am surprised they aren't moving it the 1900 and into Victorian Workmill. Would be more aligned to the time zone some of partners operate in.

City analysis 24 April 22 06:58

I think other firms should consider the stance that both Freshfields and Cleary Gottlieb are taking in this unprecedented and challenging market. Always difficult in letting your staff go, but if firms are to financially survive and offer their clients value for money then I see no other way.

Anonomous 25 April 22 11:53

They are saying nothing about this internally. The leadership got a bollocking for this being leaked but as yet there has been no communication surrounding it within Manchester which is frustrating everyone here more. Given the sensitivity you would expect this to be addressed. 

Lee Vitout 25 April 22 15:31

This has been on the cards for ages. But I'm that cynical these days I'm even wondering if this was 'accidentally' released to stir the pot and make people leave before paying out any future redundancies.

Clearly Gottlieb 04 May 22 13:42

The firm has been known to adopt a stealth attitude for the last few years and the partners greed is clear to see. Time will tell if they see fit to pass on these savings to their clients.

The CAO is not experienced enough to battle these kind of difficult decisions.

Anon 11 May 22 19:28

This has been leaked and yet the Firm are still to say a word !.

This does seem enevitable now but then what can we expect as that did the same to the London back office before they moved to Manchester.

Only recently we were told some total bollocks regarding pay reviews during the Autumn, surely that's total crap as the back office services will be shipped off to Eastern Europe.

If this has been intentionally leaked to force members of staff to look for other work then well done..makes me glad I'd already started and itching to leave even more so now.

For a Firm of it's size and calibre it's a shocking mess.

A bit redundant and peeved 24 May 22 07:55

Lots of technical (1st / 2nd / 3rd line) people from the Manchester office have changed their LinkedIn profiles to “looking for roles” yesterday. 

A bit peeved and now looking at redundancy 24 May 22 13:44

It was confirmed yesterday and now a lot of Freshfields IT staff are looking for work on LinkedIn as their roles are being outsourced to Atos Origin.

Alan"TheAxe"Mason 24 May 22 16:37

Word is out. This article was true. Management didn't have the balls to deal with this story at the time.

Pretty shocking behavior from Freshfields. Fire most of back office in London & Germany about 6 years go, then do the same to those in Manchester. All the time while shouting from the rooftops how successful the company is doing, with the US expansion.

Just as people in the comments have said, those in Manchester were always treated like the peasants in the Freshfields cast system.

Anonimyzer 25 May 22 07:44

Now it's out: Business services is going to be "Modernised". 

A disrespectful way to get rid of employees to set up a shared service center in Bratislava. Anyone who believes that this will make the firm more modern, more efficient or simply save money must be a fool. Thousands of firms have had the same experience and paid a high price in the end. The only ones who earn from it are the consultants. When the management will have understood this, the reputation will have suffered considerable damage, inside and outside the firm.

Pants on Fire Freshfields 27 May 22 16:33

In a meeting, Freshfields have admitted that this has been a long time in the planning and the Manchester staff were employed to update and upgrade the infrastructure. 

Anon 27 May 22 16:37

Manchester IT on the whole were unfortunately rubbish. An embarrassment. A bloated mess of  too many managers. The best developers got sucked away to other IT firms in Manchester. They've had no choice but do this.

Anonymous 27 May 22 17:06

Too many business analysts, project managers, delivery managers, consultants all working on stuff that no one cared about thinking they were Google turning up to work in pyjamas and skateboards and actually not enough talented developers in that place. Some good guys though who are unfortunate. Feel sorry for them. But s lot of crap there.

Dave the rave 27 May 22 20:38

IT is more than software development.  Clearly some commenting here have no understanding of what it is like for the good staff who were capable, tried hard but ultimately went unappreciated.  

The Invisible Man 28 May 22 10:55

If it wasn't for Covid I'm convinced this would have happened sooner. Too many managers and too much money wasted in Manchester. Unfortunately, genuinely talented staff are suffering and now people are scrambling to look for new jobs. Decisions like this take a long time to plan and preparations must have been going on covertly in the background for a long time - this doesn't reflect well on Freshfields as a firm at all...in fact the whole thing stinks.

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