International firm Norton Rose Fulbright is boosting its presence in the north east by recruiting new associates and graduates for its Newcastle upon Tyne office, saying lockdown has facilitated better cross-office working.

The firm is hiring 10 new associates for its Newcastle hub, and is offering a graduate solicitor apprenticeship route to its existing and future paralegals. The Newcastle office opened in 2016 and currently focuses on business services and legal technology.

Peter Scott, managing partner for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, said the past 18 months ‘have seen a fundamental shift in cross-office teams operating as one and this presents an opportunity for qualified lawyers based in Newcastle to work in teams across our international platform’.

Kiran Radhakrishnan, commercial director and head of the hub, added: ‘Our Newcastle office has gone from strength to strength over the past five years and our people have worked on some of the firm’s most complex cross-border mandates, delivering innovative and more efficient solutions for our clients.

‘The addition of these associate roles in Newcastle, along with a new route to qualification for paralegals, is the next step in our evolution. Our ambition is to recruit and retain the most talented lawyers and future lawyers in the north east region.’

In December it was reported that Norton Rose Fulbright intends to cut its London office space by around 20% following a workplace redesign. It will also allow staff to work from home up to half the time, under a hybrid working policy across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

While many firms are reducing their London footprint, however, national firm Shoosmiths has moved to a City office almost five times as big as its former London premises. The practice said the new office will provide it with greater access to a ‘rich talent pool’ and enhance its range of specialisms. US-based firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates has also signed a 15-year lease for a 65,000 square foot office in 22 Bishopsgate – one of London’s newest skyscrapers.