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21 February 2017 at 08:59 BST

From Silicon Valley, to Silicon Alley, to Silicon Belfast

Professor Jonathan Askin has lauded Belfast as the new home of legal technology innovation.


The Founder/Director of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic (BLIP) and the Innovation Catalyst for the Centre for Urban Business Entrepreneurship was speaking at the launch of the UK’s first legal innovation center in Belfast. 'This Legal Innovation Centre in Belfast is the future. When you throw legal professionals with IT expertise and people from the arts and humanities there is a great synergy and from that great innovation is born that will shape the legal profession of the future and our society,' he said

Gobal law firms

Professor Askin made the announcement at the launch of the Legal Innovation Center at Ulster University (UU) last night ( 20 February) established with the backing of global law firms Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie as well as the region’s economic development agency Invest Northern Ireland. Both firms have established bases in Belfast in recent years and the city is now home to Allen & Overy’s global IT hub.


The Legal innovation Centre is a collaboration between the School of Law and the School of Computing & Intelligent Systems. It brings together research into the application and impact of new legal technology and opportunities for the education and training of current and future lawyers in essential legal tech skills with a core focus on computational law and artificial intelligence.

Technological innovations

The new centre aims ‘to undertake research on technological innovations to improve the legal process and promote greater economic efficiency and improved access to justice’ and ‘foster the emergence of legal technologists, ready for the challenges of legal service provision in the information age.' Jason Marty, executive director of Baker McKenzie Belfast, said: 'We expect our partnership with the centre to provide tangible impacts in how we build our teams, technologies, and business.' 

Alternative legal services

Other global firms which have opted for Northern Ireland include Axiom  and Herbert Smith Freehills. Axiom set up a Belfast Centre of Excellence leveraging the company’s IRIS™ technology to deliver commercial, derivatives and regulatory projects for Fortune 500 clients. Herbert Smith Freehills’ tech-enabled Belfast operation is a key part of the firm’s global alternative legal services offer.


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