Modish architect Erno Goldfinger once ‘lived’ on the top floor of one of his tower blocks, holding champagne receptions for other residents. It appeared a cynical publicity stunt and Goldfinger was soon back in his low-rise Hampstead des res.
No such cynicism attaches to the solicitors whose advice has supported the dramatic revival of our city centres. As the Gazette’s roundtable on regeneration heard, in Birmingham these are not projects that the lawyers have left on completion. Law firms are also prestige tenants, with a long-term investment in an area and its buildings.
Legal advice adds £20bn and rising to the UK’s GDP. Its providers are core to sustaining the prosperity of cities like Birmingham, which powered the establishment of modern industrial society. But their contribution is still more profound.
As Wedlake Bell’s Helen Garthwaite observed, the ‘most successful projects are those where I have informed clients who bring in a lawyer as part of their team… from the beginning’.
That is a point worth reiterating.
Too often both the wealth and critical expertise that lawyers bring to our urban economies is lost amid the excitable talk of provincial ‘powerhouses’. Lawyers are playing a critical role in the renaissance of our cities and ministers cannot hear that message often enough.