The Leeds Conference – 14 June 2017


“We all left the conference feeling a lot better about ourselves and our city.” Park Square Barristers

“This event made me better understand the scale, importance and variety of the commercial activity going on in Leeds and the legal opportunities underpinning that activity.” Jonathan Watmough, Bond Dickinson

“I left The Leeds Conference feeling inspired by the speakers. A terrific event”  Katy Moody, Irwin Mitchell

“Entertaining and informative with a highly motivational finish.  It has given me some fresh ideas on my own work activities and work/life balance  and I am sure all the delegates took something away from the day – thank you.” Chris Goodwin, Titlesolv

City’s law firms unite for the Leeds Conference 2017

The inaugural Leeds Conference has been hailed a huge success and an important marker for the city’s ambitions to be a world-class business centre of the 21st century.

Nearly 200 lawyers representing the city’s best law firms attended the event in the majestic surroundings of the Leeds Civic Hall on June 14.

The Leeds Conference generated significant media coverage in the Financial Times, The Yorkshire Post, regional business media and leading trade title The Legal 500.

They published findings of research commissioned by Leeds City Council and the society which revealed that Leeds has seen the strongest growth of any major UK legal centre this decade, surpassing the City of London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.

Bill Barton, president of the Leeds Law Society, opened the conference with a call for the city’s law firms to collaborate in the promotion of the city’s legal sector.

Tom Bridges, chief officer for economy and regeneration at Leeds City Council, said Leeds has the seen the fastest private sector jobs growth of any UK city.

Gerald Jennings, president of the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the city’s promising social and economic future.

Bill Esterson MP, shadow international trade and business minister, told the conference about global opportunities for the city’s ambitious law firms.

Helen Fletcher, senior compliance and litigation counsel at ride-hailing firm Uber, said Leeds law firms could be the Uber of the legal sector by disrupting established City of London firms.

Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said Leeds is a crucial part of the UK legal sector and is a strategic centre for UK growth.

Hilary Benn MP, most recently chairman of the Brexit parliamentary select committee, said the Government must listen to all parties as it prepares to exit the European Union.

Breakout sessions on Millennials, featuring young Leeds lawyers Shakeel Dad, Georgina Powling and Sarah Wales, and Inclusive Growth, featuring Mr Bridges, Mr Jennings and Katie Schmuecker, head of policy at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, received excellent feedback.

Leeds law society conference 2017

Georgina Powling discussing the next generation of legal talent in the “Millennials” session

After lunch, Andrew Lilley, director of product management at LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions, spoke about commercial applications of artificial intelligence.

Professor Netta Cohen told the audience about ground-breaking research into AI the University of Leeds.

Rob Painter, director of people and brand at Sky Betting and Gaming, and Ankit Sharma, lead software developer at TPP, took part in a panel session on attracting and retaining talent in the technology sector with some lessons for the legal sector.

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, talked about putting Yorkshire on the map and not being shy in promoting the region.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, delivered closing remarks about the strengths of the city and the importance of partnerships between business and the local authority.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Ashton Golding, stars of Leeds Rhinos, brought proceedings to an end with an inspiring, informative and entertaining talk about the benefits of team work.

Leeds law society conference 2017

Bernard Ginns, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Bill Barton and Ashton Golding

Branksome Partners Ltd produced the research with support from the University of Leeds and the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

LEEDS LEGAL SERVICE Research document

LEEDS LEGAL SERVICE ccover image 550 wide

Yorkshire post article: 15 June 2017

The legal sector in Leeds has grown faster than any other UK city over the past decade, with the economic output of Leeds’s law firms expected to top £300m this year.

A new study into the value and scope of Leeds’s legal base shows that the city has outstripped the City of London, Manchester and Birmingham in terms of the growth of new firms, with legal bosses in the city now hoping to position Leeds as one of the principal legal capitals in Europe.

Leeds law society conference 2017

Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation (with Bill Barton, seated), said Leeds is a crucial part of the UK legal sector and is a strategic centre for UK growth.

The research is published on the day of the Leeds Conference, an event organised jointly by the Leeds Law Society and Leeds City Council, who have joined forces to profile and promote the city’s legal sector to international business and talent. Among the additional findings of the report are that:

  • Leeds lawyers offer the same range of services as their peers in the City of London, but without the eye-watering fees.
  • Strong competition exists within nearly every specialism, providing top end market conditions for buyers of legal services.
  • Law firms in Leeds are delivering world-class legal advice and services for clients in Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.
  • The city region is home to the largest financial and professional services community in England outside the capital, making it easier for firms to grow and win work.
  • It is ideally placed for middle and back office operations with a large and growing community of talent, innovative and collaborative tech businesses and residing legal tech specialists.

Bill Barton, president of the Leeds Law Society, said: “This research project demonstrates that Leeds has one of the strongest and most diverse legal sectors in the world. The city has a bright and exciting future and is busy nurturing the next generation of legal and technology talent.”

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

Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said: “The benefits of the Leeds cluster are already felt regionally and across the UK – and now Leeds is becoming a major player on the world stage as well. As an ambassador for all UK-based financial and professional services, I am proud to proud to promote Leeds as a dynamic and innovative city which is integral to the growth of the UK’s legal sector.”

Speakers at the Leeds Conference today include Helen Fletcher, Senior Legal Advisor at tech firm Uber, Hilary Benn MP, most recently Chair of the Brexit Select Committee and Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation.

The Legal 500 publisher is supporting the event and will share the findings of the research with its global audience of four million legal professionals. The research was carried out by PR firm Branksome Partners, with support from the University of Leeds School of Law and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

All photos courtesy of: ©2017 Paul Harness,


Leeds law society conference 2017

Bill Barton, President of Leeds Law Society

Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council

Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council

Tom Bridges, Leeds City Council

Tom Bridges, Leeds City Council

Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Leeds Rhinos

Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Leeds Rhinos

Bill Esterson MP

Bill Esterson MP

Sarah Wales

Gary Verity, Welcome to Yorkshire

Gary Verity, Welcome to Yorkshire

Professor Alastair Mullis, University of Leeds

Catherine McGuinness

Catherine McGuinness

Leeds law society conference 2017

Hilary Benn MP

Leeds law society conference 2017
Helen Fletcher, Uber

Leeds law society conference 2017

Professor Netta Cohen, University of Leeds

Leeds law society conference 2017

Rob Painter, Sky Betting and Gaming

Ankit Sharma, TPP

Andrew Lilley, LexisNexis

Leeds law society conference 2017

Gerald Jennings, Leeds Chamber of Commerce

Katie Schmuecker, Joseph Rowntree Foundation