Government Legal Department to open office in Leeds
GLD is hiring lawyers from the north of England to work in new regional centre
Leeds city centre. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA
The Government Legal Department is to open a regional centre in Leeds, which has the fastest growing legal sector in the UK.
In what the department has billed as the launch of its own "northern powerhouse", the GLD is opening a new regional centre to "take advantage of the growing market of skilled lawyers based in the north of England".
It is now recruiting staff for the Leeds office, including up to seven lawyers to work in its Employment Group, which is already 90 strong - with 14 based in Leeds - and provides employment litigation and advisory services to departments.
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Other GLD teams that will be stepping up their presence outside London include the Commercial Law Group, which helps clients with large and complex transactions across government and tries to get the best deals when buying goods and services for the public sector.
The move to Leeds comes after the 2017 Conservative party manifesto pledged to move more civil servants out of London and the south east, and after Cabinet office minister Chris Skidmore said the 20 new public bodies would be created by Brexit and they would be placed outside the capital.
GLD board member Stephen Braviner Roman said: "The government has been keen to expand out of London and make the most of the strong skills base in the regions by investing in those areas.
"When we considered the future way in which the Government Legal Department would need to work, we saw there was a compelling argument for increasing our investment in the north, and Leeds specifically.
"The legal sector in Leeds is one of the fastest growing in Britain, and we have an increasing need to deliver legal services to our government clients in the north of the country."
The GLD said the move would help it gain access to a greater pool of professional talent. The number of legal jobs in Leeds grew 20% between 2010 and 2015, while in London they grew just 5%, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Roman added: "By bringing all our teams into one building in Leeds, we will be able to offer more opportunities for our people to develop their careers.
"We already have a strong offer for anyone thinking about a career in public law, and this increased regional presence will only enhance it."
Some 300 additional lawyers have been recruited to the GLD in the last year to work on Brexit.
A Centre for Cities report released in August found that relocating public servants doesn't always boost regional growth, with the 2005 ONS move to Newport assessed as particularly unsuccessful.
The HM Revenue and Customs decision to consolidate around 170 offices into 13 regional hubs has been especially contentious.
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