Speaking at a lunch she hosted at the Law Society, Chancery Lane, London, with John Wotton the President of The Law Society, the Minister promoted the Welsh Government’s growth strategy for the sector to a select audience of representatives of major City law firms.
She was accompanied by Theodore Huckle QC, Counsel General to the Welsh Government and Christopher Nott, Managing Partner with Capital Law and Chair of the Financial & Professional Services Sector Panel.
Mrs Hart told the directors, partners and senior executives of these law firms that Wales means business. Guests include members of the ‘Magic Circle’ - an informal term used to collectively describe what are generally regarded to be the leading UK headquartered law firms and barristers chambers.
The new strategy for Financial and Professional Services (F&PS) is geared to increase employment from the current workforce of 124,000 to 200,000 by 2021, growing jobs and GVA across the sector faster than the UK average each year.
Mrs Hart told guests that Wales offers a range of compelling opportunities for law firms, including the fact that Cardiff is to have the UK’s first and only dedicated F&PS Enterprise Zone.
The Minister said:
"I welcome this opportunity to highlight what Wales has to offer and want to encourage companies working in the legal profession to seriously consider Wales as the business location of choice for future expansion and investment.
"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.
"South Wales already has an established reputation for legal services with a number of national law firms having a significant presence here, including Geldards, Eversheds and Hugh James - the largest law firm in Wales - and we look forward to others joining them."
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, in the newly designated Enterprise Zone.
The growth strategy, shaped by an independent sector advisory panel under the guidance of Christopher Nott will:
- Establish a network of ambassadors in London and internationally to help drive the message that ‘Wales is open for business’.
- Work with the largest 100 F&PS Companies in Wales to develop a 3 year business plan identifying growth opportunities for them and address any constraints to their growth plans.
- Identify fast growing SMEs and tailor an appropriate support plan to sustain growth.
- Support growing businesses to access finance and obtain professional support.
- Promote collaboration between industry, schools and universities to encourage research and ensure the curriculum and skills are matched to business needs.
- Raise the awareness of career opportunities in the F&PS Sector for students and for growing businesses to ensure the continued availability of a significant pool of skilled professionals in Wales.