BT takes legal near-shoring option with Northern Ireland move

Leeanne Whaley and George McKinney

Communications giant BT has become the first non-law firm to open a legal hub in Northern Ireland, investing over £2.7m to create up to 30 commercial lawyer jobs in Belfast over the next four years.

It joins the likes of Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, Baker McKenzie and Fieldfisher in near-shoring work across the Irish Sea.

InvestNI provided BT with “strategic business advice”, as well as a grant of £240,000 towards the creation of the jobs – seven of which are now in place – to secure the investment.

Leeanne Whaley, BT’s transformation director for legal and its company secretary, said: “Northern Ireland offers highly educated and experienced legal talent, so it was an ideal choice to set up our new hub here and we at BT are excited to recruit this talent into our legal team.

“I would like to thank Invest Northern Ireland for the support that BT has received in order to grow our legal presence here. Its recent advice and support has been invaluable.”

George McKinney, director of technology & services at Invest NI, said: “Northern Ireland is increasingly being recognised as a leading location for innovation in the legal sector.

“Our teams in Northern Ireland and Great Britain worked closely with BT to secure this investment by offering expert insight into our growing legal services sector and the talent we have to offer, along with financial support for the new jobs.

“Once all of the jobs are in place, they will contribute almost £1.4million of additional annual salaries to our local economy.”

BT has been reorganising its legal capacity over the past year. In 2019, it handed over ownership of its six-year-old alternative business structure, BT Law, to DWF having announced a strategic partnership with the listed law firm.

In March, BT sold legal and professional services software business Tikit to Advanced.

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