Telecoms giant BT announced today (1 December) that it is ready to provide a £2.7 million investment to create a new legal advice centre in Belfast that will house 30 business lawyer positions over the next four years. In July last year, BT`s legal department, which was named the most transformative in-house team of the year at the 2020 Legal Business Awards, attracted attention after the company chose DWF to secure its lucrative legal services mandate, where 40 lawyers from BT`s in-house legal team joined DWF. The transaction means that dwf will provide BT`s insurance and real estate services primarily through its managed services arm. The creation of the new hub follows a high-profile five-year deal reached by the legal department last year to transfer a 43-person insurance and property team to the top 50 of UK law firm DWF. BT has opened a new legal centre in Belfast as part of a £2.7 million investment. George McKinney, Chief Technology and Services Officer at Invest NI, added: “Northern Ireland is increasingly recognised as a leading place for innovation in the legal sector. Our teams in Northern Ireland and the UK have worked closely with BT to secure this investment by providing expert insights into our growing legal services industry and the talent we have to offer, as well as financial support for new jobs. CWU took a close look at BT`s streamlining activities and showed results that illustrate the consequences of strategies such as large-scale relocation or relocation of operational teams. The decision to sever ties with BT Law, for example, was classified as “inferior” by CWU and claimed that the group had not taken into account the likelihood of staff redundancies given the inevitable relocation requirements that come with office moves. CWU has since pointed out that “the 28 members” of BT`s former outsourced legal team decided to take advantage of TUPE-protected severance pay of up to two years of full pay instead of moving. BT`s Leeanne Whaley said the new centre will provide legal expertise to the entire group. Seven lawyers have joined bt`s new hub, which will provide efficient and high-quality legal support to BT`s corporate clients. Telecoms giant BT has announced plans to invest more than £2.7 million in a new single legal centre in Belfast, creating up to 30 business lawyer roles over the next four years.

BT has launched a legal services centre in Belfast that will create up to 30 jobs for business lawyers over the next four years, the telecoms giant said on Tuesday. “Northern Ireland offers highly qualified and experienced legal talent, so it was an ideal choice to set up our new hub here and at BT we are delighted to recruit these talents into our legal team,” she said. British telecoms giant BT is using regional development funds to open a legal centre in Belfast with up to 30 business lawyers. Seven of the new legal positions are already in place, and the centre is expected to grow to 30 over the next four years. BT`s rebuilding of its legal function continued, with the operator investing £2.7 million in setting up a legal support centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland (NI). Leeanne Whaley, Chief Transformation Officer for Legal Affairs and Corporate Secretary at BT, said: “As one of Northern Ireland`s largest investors and employers, BT is delighted to build its first legal centre in Belfast, which will continue to provide high-quality legal expertise to its colleagues at BT Group. Northern Ireland offers highly qualified and experienced legal talent, so setting up our new hub here was an ideal choice and at BT we are delighted to bring this talent to our legal team. For more information on BT`s legal function, please see: “The BT Interview – Ideas from the Bathroom” The autonomous centre will be the first of its kind for BT in Northern Ireland, using its lawyers to provide legal support to BT Group colleagues. Seven of the 30 business lawyers have already been appointed. In recent years, Invest Northern Ireland has supported several law firms, legal services and alternative legal service providers in setting up regional bases in Belfast.

These include Citi, Herbert Smith Freehills, Allen & Overy, Axiom Law and Baker McKenzie. According to the agency, operating costs in the region for a legal services center are typically 50 percent lower than in London and 40 percent lower than in New York, while it estimates an annual surplus of 500 law graduates. Sabine Chalmers, general counsel, said at the time that the decision was part of a strategy to “transform and simplify the way we work at BT”. A similar philosophy was behind BT`s sale of legal technology firm Tikit in March to British software and business services company Advanced. BT reorganised its legal functions as part of the programme and left its Eldon House site in Sheffield after selling its former BT Law business to legal services provider DWF in November 2019 (BTwatch, #306 and #307). The sale was seen as coordinated by a BT spokesperson with the operator`s efforts to “transform and simplify the way we work”. A few months earlier, in July 2019, BT DWF had awarded a five-year managed legal services contract aimed at further increasing the efficiency of the delivery of the operator`s internal and external legal services (BTwatch, No. 306). “Northern Ireland offers highly qualified and experienced legal talent, so setting up our new hub here was an ideal choice and at BT we are delighted to recruit these talents into our legal team.

I would like to thank Invest Northern Ireland for the support BT has received to expand our legal presence here. His recent advice and support has been invaluable. The Legal Hub will advise BT, which launched a three-year plan in May 2018 to achieve £1.5 billion in savings, with 13,000 jobs lost in back-office and middle management roles as part of the plan to increase competitiveness. The group sold its stake in the external software and legal services division Tikit (BTwatch, #306 and #311) in 2020. The four-year, £2.7 million investment was unveiled today by BT and regional development agency Invest Northern Ireland, providing an additional £240,000, with the new hub representing the final phase of an ongoing review of setting up BT`s legal team. BT has been fined heavily for misinformation that may have affected the outcome of a £40 million government contract. The Irish operator “considering our options” on a valuable PSSN contract, although Ofcom found no intentional breach.