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UK Trade Minister encourages Scottish legal firms to grow internationally

04 September 2013 | tagged News release

2013 is a great year to show the world what Scottish legal firms can do, the UK's Trade and Investment Minister said today.

Addressing senior solicitors and advocates in Edinburgh this morning, Lord Green of Hurtspierpoint praised the Scottish legal profession for its strengths and expertise which he said were in demand worldwide. He also encouraged firms to use the support which is available to overcome the difficulties and challenges associated with exporting overseas.

The message was backed by Scottish Government Minister for Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, and Advocate General Lord Wallace of Tankerness.

The special event, which focused on the practicalities for Scottish legal firms wishing to grow their business internationally was organised by the Law Society in Scotland in partnership with the UK and Scottish Government, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Faculty of Advocates.

Speaking during the event, Lord Green said: "The UK's legal services industry is a great British success story. It is undoubtedly one of our greatest exports and contributes over £20 billion to the UK economy.

"Wherever I have travelled, it is clear there is growing need for UK legal expertise across a range of disciplines, whether in public private partnerships, project finance or dispute resolution.

"Scotland's legal strengths are in demand worldwide, expertise from work in Scotland's innovative oil, gas and renewable energy industry, £37 billion financial services industry and £3 billion life sciences sector.

"We know that exporting can be difficult, we know it can seem daunting and we know there are challenges. With help and guidance from organisations like Scottish Development International and UK Trade and Investment, these challenges are surmountable.

"2013 is a great year to start showing the world what Scottish firms can do. We are going to carry on banging the drum for the legal services sector and we are going to carry on reaching out to the new world economies, in China, India and Brazil.

"There is lots of help available both here in Scotland and from UKTI and SDI in almost 100 markets overseas. It is important that Scottish firms use that resource."

The event also included addresses from Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham. She said: "The Scottish Government wants to ensure our legal profession extends its own influence and standing in world terms and there is no doubt that we can play a pivotal role in supporting and influencing the enterprising organisations who need to come together to play the lead roles.

"I am impressed with the progress we have already made across government, working with our various agencies, and with the professional bodies and organisations which represent the legal profession, to open up new business opportunities for Scottish law firms abroad.       

"The Scottish Government is ready to work with the Law Society and Faculty to develop and promote an engagement strategy which both encourages and supports the Scottish profession, enhances its international profile and in taking a competitive position in global markets, whether that means attracting new business to Scotland or our law firms operating abroad."

Advocate General Lord Wallace of Tankerness highlighted the ongoing work from the UK Government's action plan for promoting legal services internationally which had been launched in Scotland last March. 

He said: "Scotland has a world-class legal sector and a bright future in exporting its expertise around the world. I am delighted the UK Government, with its extensive experience and expertise in promoting global trade, is coordinating with the Scottish legal profession to find new international markets and opportunities.

"This is an action plan which stems from the UK Government's recognition of the vital contribution that the legal sector can make to economic growth, both directly and by underpinning other sectors.

"Work to deliver that plan is now progressing well, with a new Scottish coordination group bringing the UK and Scottish Governments together with the profession, and development bodies. Key messages have been developed to ensure effective and consistent promotion of Scottish legal services and we are now providing the Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates with details of the regular trade missions and other opportunities which Scottish firms can benefit from.

"My hope is that after today's practical session, more firms will use these chances to enter new markets and be supported by the experienced team of professionals, whether that is Scottish Development International, UK Trade & Investment or both."

Bruce Beveridge, President of the Law Society of Scotland, added: "It is has been tremendous to have such senior ministerial support both from the UK and Scottish Governments. It underlines the strong commitment that exists to support Scottish legal firms and help them grow internationally.

"That good will was matched by real interest from Scottish legal firms who I know wanted more practical information on how government and agencies can help them explore new international markets."

Notes to Editors

  • Today's event on international business opportunities for Scottish legal firms was attended by almost 50 solicitors and advocates. It included practical sessions on topics including trade missions and the role of UKTI and SDI. There were also sessions on dispute resolution, energy and mining, creative industries and intellectual property, infrastructure, financial services, and developing economies.
  • Biography of Lord Green of Hurtspierpoint

https://www.gov.uk/government/people/lord-green-of-hurstpierpoint

  • Biography of Roseanna Cunningham MSP

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/People/14944/Scottish-Cabinet/roseannacunninghammsp

  • Biography of Lord Wallace of Tankerness

https://www.gov.uk/government/people/lord-wallace-of-tankerness

  • The UK Government's plan for promoting legal services UK Legal Services on the International Stage: Underpinning Growth and Stability was published on 14 March 2013.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-legal-services-on-the-international-stage-underpinning-growth-and-stability

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Journalists can contact Kevin Lang on 07972 201 890. For the out of hours service please call 0131 226 7411.

Email: kevinlang@lawscot.org.uk

ENDS

04 September 2013

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