James Batt – managing director of BCL Legal – discusses the company’s London office opening...

James, why did BCL Legal decide to open a London office now?
We’ve been in business for 10 years and in that time we’ve worked hard to really develop our presence around the UK and opening full time in London was the next natural phase in our evolution. We were determined it had to be a permanent office and not just a serviced desk set up. Over the past year or so, we’ve steadily increased the number of clients and candidates we work with in London and the South East so if we wanted to service them properly then we knew we needed to be in the region. For us, an address in the Square Mile was a must so we had easy access to firms in the City as well as those operating in Canary Wharf, the West End and Holborn.

How will it work with the other offices around the country?
London just fits into the business like all the other offices we have in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol and Reading. Many of our clients in the regions also have London bases so we can now work directly with those operations as firms in the capital often have slightly different demands and expectations. Also, being here all the time means that we have our fingers on the pulse of the latest legal and recruitment trends as London tends to lead the way.

Who will be based in the new office & what are their backgrounds?
I’ll be dividing my time between London and our other offices and on the private practice side we have Matthew Porter - who is a manager and has eight years’ recruitment experience – and Raj Sidhu who joins as a managing associate and she has worked in the sector for nine years. Matthew previously worked at our Manchester office before relocating to London in 2010, so it’s great to have him back in the fold as he understands the BCL Legal culture and ethos. Both he and Raj are really well networked and are already adding value to clients and candidates which is fantastic to see. James Brewster – who specialises in the placement of insurance solicitors in the capital - also has a desk at the new office so will split his time between London and his main patch in the Midlands.

What will the initial focus of the London office be?
The initial focus for the office will be around a couple of niche areas: interim/ locum and document review roles. The aim for the next 12 to 18 months is to then rapidly grow and develop a full service private practice team that will place candidates at all levels and across all disciplines. We have ambitious yet scalable growth plans!

Will the in-house team also have a presence in London?
Absolutely! The in-house team is a central part of the BCL Legal business so Mark Levine – my co-director and head of in-house - and Craig Wilson, who is senior in-house associate, will be building the offering. Mark has already created the UK’s largest regional in-house legal recruitment team so his aim is to replicate that in London.

How will you be spreading the news that BCL Legal has arrived in London?
We’ll be networking like crazy and we’ve already staged events with partner firms including Browne Jacobson and DWF. We’ll also be staging more of these over the coming months – all of which will be announced soon.

What’s next? Maybe an international office?
Who knows! Our initial focus is most definitely on building London and also maintaining our influence and dominance around the rest of the country. We’ve got a fantastic team so watch this space!