Lexington, KY – Boston-based law firm Bingham McCutchen has cut the ribbon on its Global Services Center at UK’s Coldstream Research Campus.
The center, meant to house much of the operations and back of house administration for the international law firm, is currently home to 100 employees, many still undergoing training. Over the next 12 months, according to Bingham COO L. Tracee Whitley, the firm will bring on another 150 employees. Some, including Whitley herself, will be relocating from other Bingham offices around the world.
With 1,000 attorneys, another 900 in staff and annual revenue of nearly $900 million Bingham is one of the world’s largest law firms. In early 2012, the firm began looking for a city to place a center to merge services that had previously been scattered around the globe in the firm’s other law offices.
The 45,000-square-foot former IBM building has been completely gutted since Bingham announced it would lease it in September. Now visitors to the center will walk into a stark, light and modern lobby with a white mosaic floor and staircase. The building follows a “light, bright and open” model adopted in the last decade by the firm’s main office in Boston, according to Bingham’s Chief Administrative Officer Sherri Bracken. Bright orange and red carpet adorns the similar quadrants of the two-story building.
The sleek and ultra-modern interior, which resembles an Apple Store more than a traditional law office, is wide open, with only a short frosted glass divider separating facing employees and virtually no separation between adjoining workspaces. Each of the eight office areas is winged by conference and huddle rooms, areas for employees to gather for web conferences or hold meetings where confidentiality is required or other collaboration is needed. Each room is equipped with a workstation similar to the ones found on employee’s desks where they can dock laptops to allow workers to use larger monitors and keyboards.
Less than a handful of the rooms around the bullpen-style conference areas are to be used as offices, as both Whitely and the director of the center sit at workstations out in the large, open room.
“This project represents so much more than just expanded production. It represents a new business model in many, many respects. It represents the best of reengineering and enterprise,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray during a ceremony to mark the building’s official opening. When Gray took office at the start of 2011, he adopted a similar open office layout in the Government Center’s Ballroom.
Gray spoke at the opening along with a bevy of state and local leaders, welcoming Bingham to their new home, but Whitley was quick to point out the officials weren’t just stopping by to welcome them, they’d been involved in the firm’s transition process.
“You all told us when you recruited us that you would see us through this transition of our operations to Lexington, and you have kept your promises,” she said.
Lexington beat out an initial group of more than 300 cities being investigated to locate this center, parts of which will operate around the clock. The state and city approved an incentive package for the firm based on at least 250 jobs.
The state approved the company for tax incentives up to $6.5 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board approved a 3 percent incentive on the firm’s Kentucky taxes. The Lexington Urban County Council granted 1 percent incentive and permitting exemptions.
After those 250 positions are filled, the firm will still have room to expand as half of the second floor is finished, but empty. There is also an option in the firm’s lease to expand the building by an extra 15,000 square feet if it is needed in the future, according to Bracken.
In addition to Boston, Bingham has offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Hartford, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Silicon Valley, Tokyo and Washington.