Welsh government offers City law firms incentives to open back-office operations in Cardiff

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By Legal Futures

28 June 2012


Cardiff: professional services enterprise zone

Wales will today make its pitch as a new onshore venue where City law firms can cut their costs by locating back-office operations.

At a lunch for City lawyers at the Law Society, Wales business minister Edwina Hart will highlight the fact that Cardiff recently became the UK’s first and only dedicated financial and professional services enterprise zone.

The Welsh government says it offers “generous training and recruitment support for new and growing businesses” locating in the area.

In April, accountancy firm Deloitte became the first to take advantage of the enterprise zone, choosing Cardiff to open a hub for its risk operations team and create 100 jobs. It is receiving £400,000 for “enhanced training support” over the next three years.

Ms Hart said: “We are targeting international law firms, initially those located in London, with attractive training and skills propositions that can improve their competiveness and performance.

“The Cardiff city region values its business links with London and we regard our relationship with key business representatives of the legal profession as critical to working together to support and stimulate economic growth… London-based law firms can improve their operational cost effectiveness by accommodating back-office functions, supported by the rich skill pool in the Cardiff city region.”

The Welsh government will be heartened by the success of the Northern Ireland government in using incentives to attract the likes of Herbert Smith and Allen & Overy to open back-office operations in Belfast, choosing an onshore but cheaper location rather than outsourcing abroad.

The Welsh government’s new strategy for financial and professional services aims to increase employment from the current workforce of 124,000 to 200,000 by 2021 – Wales currently has 4,500 students studying for law degrees.

The growth strategy is being shaped by an independent sector advisory panel chaired by Christopher Nott, managing partner of Capital Law. Mr Nott will be at the lunch, which is co-hosted by Law Society president John Wotton, as will Theodore Huckle QC, counsel general to the Welsh government.

 



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We all know that nothing in life is certain. As the actor, director and philosopher Clint Eastwood once said: “If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” He also said he’d tried being reasonable and didn’t like it. They should teach this kind of philosophy in law school. One thing in life is reasonably certain though. If you’re a law firm worth your salt, at some point you will be approached by another entity (most probably a work introducer) with a whizzy idea to ‘partner’ with you to ‘help you accelerate your growth’. In commercial speak this means, ‘we’d like to keep feeding you work but we’d also like to share in your profits’. The arrangement may be pitched to you as a joint venture – a win-win no less.

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