The Welsh government will today launch a long-term strategy to attract thousands of new legal jobs to the country.

Business minister Edwina Hart is targeting international, London-based law firms, which she will urge to consider Wales as the ‘business location of choice’ for expansion and investment.

Hart is hosting a lunch at the Law Society in Chancery Lane for an audience of representatives of major City firms. She will tell them that Wales is one of the most competitive regions in the UK for financial and professional services (F&PS).

The Welsh government’s new strategy for F&PS is geared to increase employment in the sectors from 124,000 now to 200,000 by 2021. At the core of its ambitions is the fact that Cardiff will have the UK’s first and only dedicated F&PS Enterprise Zone, with capacity for 40,000 additional staff in new, low-carbon buildings.

Hart said: ‘We are targeting international law firms, initially those located in London, with attractive training and skills propositions.’

The minister added that London-based law firms can improve their operational cost-effectiveness by accommodating back-office functions, supported by the ‘rich skill pool’ in the 1.4m-strong Cardiff City region.

Hart stressed that South Wales already has an established reputation for legal services, with a number of national law firms present there, including Geldards, Eversheds and Hugh James. ‘We look forward to others joining them,’ she said.

The F&PS strategy has been shaped by an advisory panel chaired by Christopher Nott, managing partner at Cardiff-headquartered Capital Law.

    Former attorney general Lord Morris of Aberavon has warned the Welsh government that it is ‘impossible’ to estimate the cost of creating a separate jurisdiction in the country. He told the cross-party Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, which is consulting on the issue, that such costs are likely to be ‘considerable’ and that it is ‘unclear’ what a separate jurisdiction would entail. He advised the committee to canvass judges and lawyers in Scotland and Northern Ireland before it produces recommendations.

    ‘It is for the proposers of a separate jurisdiction to set out what they mean,’ he said. ‘Does it mean a separate court of appeal in Wales?’