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BLOG: Why the Government Legal Department is expanding plans in Leeds

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13 Apr 2018

We caught up with Justinia Lewis from the Government Legal Department (GLD) to discover more about their expansion plans in Leeds and how this opens up career development opportunities.

 

What is your experience of the legal sector in Leeds City Region?

I have strong connections with the city of Leeds, having studied here and moved back to the city after working in the private sector in London. My heart just wasn’t in London or the private sector and Leeds is a brilliant place to be a lawyer; there are incredible opportunities, a fabulous city, and I have excellent access to the countryside. I’m able to benefit from the quality of work without compromising on quality of life. Hopefully, people are able see they can now pursue high level opportunities without having to relocate to London, which has traditionally been the natural progression.

Tell us about your role and the role of your organisation.

The GLD is the government’s lawyer. We provide legal advice across departments on government policies and decisions; we draft legislation and represent the government in court. Our core purpose is to help the government to govern well within the rule of law. Allied to this GLD aims to be trusted by government not only for the excellence of our advice but also for providing value for money. Our goal is to be known throughout the legal profession for the quality of our work, making us a desirable employer for the most talented and passionate legal professionals.

I personally work as a commercial lawyer, specifically advising the Department of Health and Social Care, advising on commercial relationships while being based in Leeds.

Why did the Government Legal Department decide to open a new regional office in Leeds and what do you hope to achieve?

The move is part of our ongoing corporate vision to fulfil the potential of our existing regional presence. Our teams are already based in government departments in locations around the UK, as well as Cyprus and Germany. Part of the reason for moving the existing Leeds teams, from two separate buildings into a much bigger single site, is to provide scope for future expansion. Our intention is that the commercial law and employment teams will grow and some litigation work could also move to Leeds. This is part of GLD’s future roadmap.

The move is also in line with the government’s estates strategy to exploit regional opportunities. In this way we can continue to improve the services we provide to our clients by matching their locations.

The new office will enable us to take greater advantage of the pool of professional talent that is available in Leeds. We put considerable emphasis on attracting the best legal talent we can and we offer unrivalled opportunities for varied, high quality and challenging work. GLD lawyers are now at the heart of Leeds’ highly skilled and dynamic legal workforce (which is outstripping all other UK cities!). Legal jobs in Leeds grew 20 percent between 2010 and 2015 while in London they grew 5 percent.

The move will improve working conditions for our team as the new building provides a dedicated space with its own facilities, promoting knowledge sharing and career opportunities.

What are the latest trends in the legal sector in Leeds City Region?

I think there is a wealth of talent in Leeds, with a mixture of private sector deep specialists and experienced public sector lawyers who are already familiar with public law. It creates a fantastic pool of talent with particular strengths in commercial law, that myself and my colleagues find ideal. The city is full of excellent educators and organisations training people and increasing the numbers of good lawyers; so much so that you don’t even have to leave Yorkshire to access the talent as there is a whole environment and life cycle around law.

What opportunities are there for people interested in pursuing a career in law at GLD  in Leeds?

We’re aiming to grow out team to up to 80 lawyers in Leeds and increase our overall presence in the North. While commercial and employment is our primary focus for expansion, we also aim to grow in litigation which will be completely new outside of London. I think one of the key opportunities available with us is the opportunity to work for different government departments and to move from specialism to specialism which in the private sector is difficult to do.  While we’ve currently finished our first round of recruiting, we aim to go out for recruitment again later in the year.

I think the city has changed and grown so much in recent years, the new office location on the Southbank is a prime location opposite the proposed HS2 site, and it’s ideal for access to the station. 

 

To discover more about the legal sector in Leeds City Region, please click here. If you are considering an expanison or relocation, contact the Inward Investment team who provide a confidential and bespoke service here.