Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie invest in Northern Ireland legal innovation centre

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Allen & Overy (A&O) and Baker McKenzie have invested in a new legal innovation centre at the University of Ulster.

The centre will undertake research into legal technology and train students and lawyers in the use of such technology, including cloud-based law practice management platforms and software used for preparing legal bundles and electronic presentation in court.

A&O and Bakers both have established legal services centres in Northern Ireland. A&O moved into the market 2011, followed by Bakers in 2014.

Bakers Belfast executive director Jason Marty said that areas of involvement for the firm included research, which would entail “collaborating with professors and students on long-term research, looking at questions around unstructured data and machine learning”.

The firm is planning to send its employees to study at the centre and also expects to recruit graduates who have benefited from the training. Bakers personnel are also likely to be involved in the teaching process, serving as guest lecturers.

Of Bakers’ support of the centre, Marty said: “There is a measure of financial support over multiple years – that is in addition to the time and effort put in by myself and others at the firm.”

The new centre has also received sponsorship from economic development agency Invest Northern Ireland, which provided funding for A&O and Bakers’ Belfast launches.

Jane Townsend, the head of A&O’s legal services centre in Belfast, said: “Legal service is a knowledge-led business and technology is pivotal to everything we do. Across our firm, we seek to continually improve and enhance our systems and the way we do things. This collaboration gives us the opportunity to work towards these and other goals, while deepening our strong relationship with Ulster University.”