The latest international challenge to England and Wales as the jurisdiction of choice for global business has come from within the UK. Scotland's leading commercial law firms have teamed up with a branch of the Scottish government and the Law Society of Scotland to set up Scottish Legal International to promote the country's legal sector to overseas markets.
The move reflects suspicion that the UK government's 'Legal Services are GREAT' campaign, launched in Washington DC in 2016, is too London focused. Scottish Legal International will 'ensure Scotland is well represented' in the UK campaign, the initiative's chair, Paul Carlyle, partner at Scottish and London firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, said today.
In a reference to growing international competition for commercial dispute resolution work after Brexit, he said: 'Now more than ever businesses in Scotland need to send a strong, positive message to the rest of the world. The legal profession is a key component of that message.'
Announcing the initiative, Graham Matthews, president of the Law Society of Scotland, noted that the country's legal sector contributed over £1.2 billion for the Scottish economy and supports more than 20,000 jobs. 'Additionally, our legal system and Scottish solicitors are held in very high regard around the globe and in an increasingly competitive business environment it’s crucial for us to take a coordinated approach to selling our strengths to a global market.'
According to the announcement Scottish Legal International will promote legal services as an essential component of successful international trade and investment. It will work with Scottish Development International, the investment arm of the Scottish government.
Scotland's minister for legal affairs, Annabelle Ewing, said: 'The work of Scottish Legal International, along with the other strands of work underway, will allow us to bring to bear the unique Scottish legal system and contribute to the global effort among international partners to tackle dynamic threats such as those in cyberspace that can impact on Scotland’s citizens, its businesses and its public services.'