Event planned to promote Leeds as a world-class legal centre

Some of the county's biggest names in business, politics and the law will speak at an event to promote the city of Leeds as a world-class legal centre.

The Leeds Conference, which takes place on June 14 and is being billed as a major event, and aims to attract outside talent and investment into the city’s law firms.

Organisers say they will use the event as the launchpad for new research which positions Leeds as the UK centre of excellence for legal services outside London.

The Leeds Law Society is organising the conference with support from Leeds City Council. They commissioned research into size and scale of the sector.

Speakers include Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, Helen Fletcher, currently the senior legal advisor at tech firm Uber and who worked at DLA Piper for more than a decade, Hilary Benn, most recently chair of the Brexit select committee and David Espley, UK technology director at LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions.

The Ministry of Justice is expected to announce a minister of state will also be addressing the conference.

Others in the line-up at Leeds Civic Hall include Bill Esterson, most recently the shadow international trade secretary, Frank Hester, the chief executive of TPP, one of Yorkshire’s most valuable technology businesses.

Organisers also hope to feature the co-founder of AI pioneer IBM Watson Legal Brian Kuhn, who is anticipated to fly in from the United States for the occasion.

Hilary Benn

Bill Barton, incoming president of the Leeds Law Society, said: “We want ambitious businesses and graduates wherever they are in the UK or the world to understand that Leeds is the pre-eminent centre for legal services in the UK outside London.

“Leeds is home to some of the best legal minds in the UK who are acting for clients across the world. Their clients know that by instructing law firms in Leeds they are going to get a world-class service at a competitive price.

“We will be using the conference to publish new research that confirms our position beyond doubt.”

The Legal 500 is supporting the event and will publish the findings of the research to its global audience of four million legal professionals.

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

As well as highlighting the size and scale of the legal industry in Leeds, the conference will also showcase the strong diversity in the sector and its pioneering programme for legal apprenticeships.

Other speakers include Rob Painter, marketing director at Sky Betting and Gaming, Katie Schmuecker, head of policy at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, and a panel of rising stars representing the next generation of legal talent.

A Yorkshire Olympian is set to close the conference with an inspirational speech, although organisers remain tight-lipped on who this may be.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I’m delighted to welcome visitors from the legal sector to Leeds. Leeds is a world-class centre for law, with firms in the city providing legal services to clients on a national and international scale.

Hilary Benn

“By offering innovative legal apprenticeships, Leeds law firms are leading the way in opening up the profession to people of all backgrounds.

“We need law firms in Leeds to support this conference to send a strong message that Leeds has the best legal sector in the UK.”

The news was also welcomed by Mike Cartwright, policy and representation executive at West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

He said: “We welcome this conference being held in Leeds.

“The speaker line-up is impressive and we look forward to hearing about the new research.

“We know that the city is already a great place in which to do business and can showcase some top-class legal firms to back up that claim.

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

“However, we should not rest on our laurels and so we support the request of the organisers to get the legal sector behind the conference and help promote the city to the next level.”

The event will take place at Leeds Civic Hall in Millennium Square on Wednesday June 14.

Organisers of the conference said the event is part of a wider programme of activity to help profile and promote the legal sector in the city of Leeds.

The city is one the country’s leading legal centres, with all of the Yorkshire Big Six law firms having a sizeable presence in Leeds.

Public relations agency Branksome Partners Ltd carried out research into the sector with support and assistance from the University of Leeds School of Law.

Tickets are available for a nominal fee via the Leeds Law Society via their website at http://bit.ly/2pVIPAt