By Lorie Hailey
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 12, 2012) — Bingham McCutchen, an international law firm based in Boston plans to open a global services center in Lexington, bringing with it 250 jobs, the company announced today.
Mayor Jim Gray called the firm’s announcement “the best news we’ve had since the recession started in 2008.”
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The company will invest $22.5 million to establish the shared-services center, part of a transformation initiative to enhance the performance of Bingham McCutchen’s administrative operations.
Bingham employs more than 1,000 lawyers and 900 support staff in offices on three continents. Its lawyers often play key roles in matters of worldwide importance, the firm states on its website. It cites Deepwater Horizon litigation, Olympus Corp., the Icelandic banking crisis and The Oracle/SAP copyright infringement case as recent examples.
The firm will relocate 250 professional service jobs to Lexington over the next few years from several existing offices across the U.S. The center will provide finance, accounting, human resources, information technology, operations, marketing, communications, research and knowledge services, as well as risk management functions that are unique to law firms. It will be located in the University of Kentucky’s Coldstream Research Campus business park.
The average wage for those jobs, including employee benefits, is $37 an hour, according to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA).
The transition of Bingham’s administrative functions to its new center in Lexington is anticipated to begin in April and continue through the spring of 2014. Bingham is working with Deloitte Consulting in the planning, design and implementation of its new services center and related operational initiatives.
“The global services center will position us to operate even more efficiently in an ever-changing, highly competitive economy,” said Chairman Jay Zimmerman, adding that while the focus of the effort is on centralizing U.S. administrative operations, its scope is international. “After 15 years of significant growth by combinations, we are consolidating our operations model to more efficiently support our lawyers around the world and, in turn, provide better service to our national and global client base.”
After a comprehensive review, Bingham selected Lexington because of its access to a deep and dynamic workforce, a developed academic community and a vibrant quality of life, among other factors, according to L. Tracee Whitley, CEO of Bingham McCutchen.
“The commonwealth of Kentucky and the city of Lexington joined forces to offer us the most competitive incentives package of the metropolitan areas we considered,” Whitley said. “It will, upon approval, enable us to get up and running quickly in Kentucky. In addition to the strong business opportunity presented, we found in Lexington an inviting community and a shared sense of values, which we believe our people will embrace.”
On Wednesday, KEDFA preliminarily approved tax incentives for the company of $6.5 million.
Most of the employees affected by the decision will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Lexington, Whitley said.
City leaders, Commerce Lexington representatives and state officials worked “overtime to win” the international law firm, said Gray, who led the recruiting team.
“Clearly it was worth pulling out all the stops. So we did, as did the governor and state officials,” the mayor said.
Commerce Lexington organized dozens of meetings and managed a professional recruiting effort and “was the glue that held our team together,” Gray said.
Bob Quick, Commerce Lexington president and CEO, said the project falls within one of Lexington’s strategic industry targets for economic development.
“Bingham McCutchen evaluated many cities during the site selection process and the company’s decision to locate in Lexington is a testament to the city’s unique combination of hospitality, sophistication and culture,” Quick said. “The community will be proud to have Bingham McCutchen as a corporate and community citizen in Lexington.”
Zimmerman called Lexington “an excellent fit.”
“I am impressed by the vitality of the city, the warmth of the people and the business-friendly environment,” the firm’s chairman said.
The University of Kentucky and the state Economic Development Cabinet also were highly involved in the project.
“It is a testament to the cooperative work of a number of deans and departments on our campus, as well as our continued close partnership with Commerce Lexington,” said UK President Eli Capilouto.
Everyone involved wants to give themselves “high-fives, but at the end of the day, Lexington sells itself,” Gray said. “Bingham McCutchen loved the same things about our city that we love … smart, friendly people who care about our great city, educational opportunities and livability.”
The company’s decision is “high octane” for Lexington’s economy, the mayor said. “This decision reflects the kind of results we can expect more of.”