Ulster University teams up with Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie to launch UK’s first ‘legal innovation centre’

Avatar photo

By Thomas Connelly on

Helping law students become tech-savvy

Ulster University has launched what is believed to be the United Kingdom’s first ever “legal innovation centre”, thanks to the support of international law firms Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie.

Speaking at its launch yesterday, Ulster University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, explained that the new hub is born out of the “growing recognition of the crucial and ever-expanding role of technology in law”.

As well as undertaking “much-needed research” into new innovations, the centre will help students and lawyers — who are interested in law-tech — prepare themselves for the “challenges of legal service provision in the information age.” Nixon, continuing to trumpet the benefits of the project, said:

The legal sector is immensely important to our economy and in recent years Northern Ireland has attracted significant investment from several global law firms which has created a hub of legal expertise with a focus on innovation. This new centre will underpin the strength of our legal sector and further enhance Ulster University’s global reputation for law and computer science research excellence.

The centre, which will be led by three Ulster University academics, will also give law students the opportunity to get to grips with the latest pieces of legal technology. These include Clio, a law practice management platform, and Caselines, a system that helps prepare legal bundles and electronic courtroom presentations.

Financial support for the new centre has come from Invest Northern Ireland (an economic development agency) and international duo Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie. Both firms have a presence within the country, with Allen & Overy launching its Belfast legal services centre in 2011, and Baker McKenzie later in 2014.

Commenting on the launch, Jane Townsend — who is a partner and head of Allen & Overy’s Belfast office — revealed that “knowledge-led business and technology is pivotal to everything we do.” Continuing, she said:

This collaboration gives us the opportunity to work towards these and other goals while deepening our strong relationship with Ulster University. We’ve been greatly impressed by the high calibre of the Legal Innovation Centre and its strategy for accelerating innovation and technology in the legal sector.

Jason Marty, executive director of Baker McKenzie’s Northern Ireland outpost, claimed the new centre will provide tangible impacts in how we build our teams, technologies, and business. He explained:

We also look forward to contributing to the good work of the centre on issues with direct benefit to the people and legal system of Northern Ireland and beyond.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub here.