Hogan Lovells is bullish on Louisville. In the little over a year since the international law firm chose Louisville as the location for its second Global Business Services Center, its growth and its passion for the city have exceeded all expectations.

Hogan Lovells is one of the world’s largest law firms, with over 3,000 lawyers spread across 45 offices in North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. When the firm opened its business services center, providing professional support services to its lawyers around the world, on Shelbyville Road in November 2016, its five-year plan was to bring 250 jobs to the city.

However, with 133 positions already filled, the firm is on pace to complete that plan sooner than expected. “We are on target to exceed 200 employees by the end of 2018,” said Bill Ball, Managing Director of Global Business Services at Hogan Lovells. That’s well ahead of schedule with – potentially – plenty of room left to grow.

A seed and grow approach

Ball puts the higher than anticipated rate of growth down to a number of factors: “We took a seed and grow approach to launching the business service center in Louisville, with an initial focus on scaling up the finance billing, conflicts and IT service desk areas,” he says. “The combination of the quality of services delivered through and attrition in those initial and other business services functional areas in other offices, resulted in numerous roles moving to Louisville.”

However, meeting business expectations tells only part of Hogan Lovells’ Louisville story. “We have found the right people here and they are helping us to provide outstanding service to our colleagues around the world,” added Ball, a native of Maryland who spent 25 years in Washington D.C. before relocating to Louisville when the office was opened. “But more than that, this has turned out to be a city that welcomes newcomers and outsiders and has very quickly become home.”

Tyemesha Smith

Quality of life

Quality of life was one of the firm’s most important criteria used to assess its choices when it began searching for expansion cities. It is not just an important measure in persuading talent to move to a new location, it is equally important in terms of attracting new talent, both

locally and from larger cities as well. Louisville’s combination of affordability and manageable traffic, its active arts and music community, its wide variety of family-friendly cultural attractions, neighborhood walkability, parks and a vibrant culinary scene, and of course its southern affability and Midwest practicality, all contributed to the decision.

Personal stories

When Tyemesha Smith, Accounts Payable Coordinator, relocated to Louisville after two years at Hogan Lovells’ Washington, D.C. office, she knew she enjoyed her job but wasn’t  sure what to expect from a move to Louisville. It was that “southern affability” that surprised her the most, and helped her settle. “You assume it’s just a cliché, that it’s not real, but folks here really do take the time to converse with you,” she said. Smith particularly enjoys sharing Louisville’s culinary scene with visitors.

“Not only is the food tasty but the atmosphere at most of the restaurants adds to the flair. I feel like whenever someone visits who has never been here before they’re always skeptical or don’t know what to expect, because it’s a city that flies under the radar. Everyone who visits is surprised at how much they like it and by how much they want to come back and discover more.”

Ken Townsend, Continuing Legal Education Coordinator at Hogan Lovells and a North Carolina native, said that Louisville’s progressive environment was also a pleasant surprise to him. “I moved here sight unseen from Washington, D.C. having previously lived for several years in the San Francisco Bay area. Depending on your point of view, Kentucky perhaps has a slightly regressive reputation, but I have encountered great enthusiasm for LGBTQ issues, feminism, community service, and a general sense of fun and good-naturedness.”

Louisville is a city with so much to offer

Townsend also appreciates the bustling arts community, especially the performing arts scene for comedy, storytelling, improv, open mics and other surprises at venues like Decca and the Bard’s Town. “Louisville is a very playful and creative city, and far less pretentious in its approach to the arts than other cities,” he said. “Some people on the coasts know nothing about this city, except the stereotypical KFC, bourbon and horses. They half expected me to see horses hitched up outside saloons when I arrived,” he joked. “But I am very glad I took a chance on Louisville.”

For Bill Ball, whose favorite restaurants include Seviche and Le Moo, the international flavor of Louisville foods added another dimension. “This sent a signal to me about this city being inclusive, diverse, and progressive. That is important to me personally, and to Hogan Lovells as a global organization,” he said.

For Hogan Lovells, it was important to understand that most people don’t just want to move to a new city because of a job. People want to move because the job is in a place they want to live. Louisville’s “live-ability” has helped Hogan Lovells to attract the talent that has secured its early success, and will continue to be the key as it ramps up hiring and potentially grows beyond its initial target.

“What has really exceeded my expectations has been not only how quickly we’ve onboarded employees but how quickly our team members have learned and mastered skills and the Hogan Lovells culture mindset,” said Ball. “Our ability to deliver exceptional service is being talked about across our firm. That is really gratifying and exciting, and the fact that it’s been done in just a year is amazing.  That said, we are constantly looking at how we can further improve and innovate the delivery of business services across our firm.”

What’s next?

Learn more about Hogan Lovells and career opportunities here.