- February 2, 2018
Support systems for financial and professional enterprises have quietly become the backbone of the Tampa Bay economy.
More than 356,000 people are employed in the sector, according to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. That's partially thanks to the region’s competitive talent pool and lower costs of doing business compared to northeast states, like New York and New Jersey, for example, that have traditionally been home to back-office operations for big banks and law firms.
Case in point: Baker McKenzie, an international law firm that generated $2.9 billion in revenue last year, plans to build a new global support facility in Tampa that will employ 300 people when it opens in 2020. The company has nearly 6,200 fee-earning lawyers worldwide and operates similar facilities in Manila and Belfast, according to a news release.
Jamie Lawless, formerly COO of Baker McKenzie's Washington, D.C., and New York offices, will head up the firm’s new Tampa support hub. The facility will handle a wide array of back-office work in areas such as legal services, finance, IT, talent acquisition, business development and marketing and communications, the release adds.
Lawless, in the release, praises Tampa’s prodigious talent pool as a deciding factor.
“Talent is the biggest asset to any global professional services firm, and we intend our Tampa center to be a great place to work for the best and brightest in the area,” she states. “Solid, collaborative and trusted relationships with the local community will make us more effective in delivering on that promise."
Baker McKenzie follows in the footsteps of Holland & Knight LLP, another prominent international law firm, which in 2015 opened a 50,000-square-foot administrative support facility in Brandon with 250 employees. The firm sacrificed some of its prime downtown Tampa real estate to make the move, but its lawyers remain in the city center. The spacious, open-plan, light-filled back-office ops center, meanwhile, has been a hit.
“We've really seen a dramatic increase in collaboration,” Carrie Weintraub, the firm’s chief professional development and human resources officer, told the Business Observer in 2016.
(This story was updated to reflect the correct number of people employed in financial and professional services in the Tampa region.)