Belfast Telegraph

Law Society in talks to attract outsourcing jobs

By Margaret Canning

The Law Society of Northern Ireland has spoken to Invest NI about attracting more international firms to set up outsourcing operations in the province, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Law Society president Brian Speers said it wanted to ensure Northern Ireland's legal profession could take advantage of trends in the global legal market.

Mr Speers said: "There is no doubt that lots of firms are looking at other ways of operating in areas where the overheads are not so high.

"The Law Society, in the interests of our members, needs to pitch ourselves right to the fore of that."

It was part of "refreshing" the sector, Mr Speers said. "We are aware of the agriculture, tourism, construction and food sectors in Northern Ireland. The Law Society also wants to ensure the legal sector is healthy."

International commercial firm Allen & Overy announced earlier this year it would create over 300 jobs in an outsourcing operation in Belfast. Herbert Smith announced last year it would recruit around 20 staff for its back office in the city.

Both said they were attracted by lower operating costs here and the quality of legal graduates.

Mr Speers said the legal sector in Northern Ireland should be showcased.

"Any of the firms which have already set up outsourcing operations here have said they are delighted with our infrastructure and the quality of the graduates and the lawyers they have engaged here," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Speers said the economic slowdown had left indigenous firms having to consider measures such as cutting staff numbers, working hours and other overheads.

He said the 'new horizons' theme of a recent Law Society conference was to remind people that there were opportunities in emerging areas of work, such as mediation.

"We are having to look at new horizons because of the impact of the recession, the banking crisis and the housing slowdown."

Belfast recently hosted the annual conference of the European Young Lawyers and the annual conference of the German-Irish Lawyer Association.

The itinerary of the American Bar Association's conference in Dublin in October and the conference of the International Bar Association next year will both include visits to Belfast, Mr Speers said.