The University of Law (ULaw), the UK’s longest-established specialist provider of legal education and training, is planning to open a new campus in Leeds to be at the epicentre of the UK’s newest legal hub.
ULaw, which is also the UK’s only specialist university in legal education, is planning to relocate its York centre to Leeds in September 2014, where it would be located in the centre of the city and its legal community.
Leeds’ legal market has been described by the UK Legal 500 as “second only to London”. There are currently 150 law firms operating in the city, employing 6,700 people in total and 12,300 people in the wider Leeds city region1. Several of the UK’s largest law firms have a significant presence in Leeds including DLA Piper, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Irwin Mitchell and Walker Morris. In addition the establishment of an Administrative Court in Leeds in April 2009 reinforced the city’s position as one of the UK’s key legal centres as previously the court sat only in London.
The University of Law’s new Leeds centre would put students at the heart of this thriving legal community enabling them to enhance their employability prospects due to their proximity to major law firms. As the second largest metropolitan area in England, Leeds has much to offer students both in terms of study, work and social experiences.
The relocation to Leeds would also allow ULaw to offer a broader range of programmes to a wider group of students. At the same time, its central location would give law firms based in the North East region easy access to all of their staff training requirements.
Professor Nigel Savage, The University of Law President and Provost, said: “As the world’s largest provider of professional legal training, we want to contribute to the continued growth and success of the thriving legal community in Leeds. Locating The University of Law in the heart of the city would enable law firms to source high calibre law students as well as the highest quality legal training for their staff.
“We take pride in the fact that eighty nine per cent of our 2011/12 Legal Practice Course graduates are currently employed in legal work2. Providing top class skills training would help to underpin the future economic growth of Leeds and the wider North East region by ensuring that the legal and business sectors have access to the best talent.”
With more than 100 years of heritage, ULaw is well placed to meet the changing needs of the profession in Leeds. It has eight centres across England and in the past 12 years has successfully opened new centres in Birmingham, London Moorgate, Manchester and Bristol. It currently has exclusive training arrangements with more than 30 major law firms, including three of the world’s largest, and works with 92 of the top 100 UK law firms. Its focus is on equipping lawyers with the professional skills essential for legal practice.
John Pickering, Group Chief Executive and Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "We share The University of Law’s confidence in the Leeds market as a hub for legal services and welcome their planned further investment in the sector. A buoyant legal services market needs an organisation like the University to drive innovation and prepare the next generation of young lawyers for the range of demands that they face in delivering legal services."
Robin Smith, former senior partner of DLA Piper and former Chairman of Leeds Building Society and The Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said: "This is great news for the Leeds professional services sector and long overdue. The University of Law (incorporating The College of Law) has, since I was a student with them, always adapted its business model and educational approach to suit the times. Its presence in the city will add real value to the renaissance that is it taking place in Leeds in the professional services sector and business community in general. It’s vital to our success that we retain and attract the best talent in the city and a professionally-focused law school with global contacts can only facilitate that process."
Gwendoline Davies, Partner at Walker Morris, said: “Leeds has become a central hub for law firms in recent years and is now a thriving legal community where many aspiring young lawyers want to come and learn because of the training and job opportunities available to them. As the demand for bright young talent continues to grow, the presence of The University of Law would play a significant role in keeping Leeds at the forefront of legal training excellence.”
The University of Law will individually consult all students who could be affected by the planned relocation to explain the options open to them and listen to any concerns. ULaw always works hard to ensure that any issues are addressed appropriately to prevent students from being adversely impacted and would plan to put into place packages of support, such as help with travel costs, on a case by case basis.
ULaw would be making a multi-million pound investment in its new Leeds centre and is currently considering a number of sites that are located in the heart of the business and legal community and within walking distance of the railway station.
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1 www.locateinleeds.co.uk/economy/legal-services 2 based on known records of students successfully completing their studies in July 2012