We believe in making a positive difference to society and the economy by partnering with industry through responsible sponsorships, scholarships and strategic corporate giving. Every one of our corporate partnerships is unique, matching specific business interests, motivations and resources with a meaningful Ulster project that will have clear positive impact on the ground across our core philanthropic priorities.
One such partnership is that with global law firm, Allen & Overy. After establishing its Belfast office in 2012 Allen & Overy joined forces with the Ulster University’s School of Law in a bid to develop the legal professionals of the future and improve much needed access to justice in Northern Ireland. The partnership has grown to involve several complementary projects with different touch points in the School of Law.
Ulster University Law Clinic
Ulster’s award-winning Law Clinic was established in 2013 and offers free legal advice on social security and employment law problems to those who, under normal circumstances, would not have access to such support. The Clinic is part of the LLM Access to Justice course, and the support, advice and representation services are provided by our postgraduate Law students. There is no comparable postgraduate programme in the UK or Ireland.
For the past eight years, Allen & Overy has provided scholarships, currently worth £5,500, to students enrolled on the LLM Access to Justice course which not only give them the opportunity to work in the Law Clinic, but also covers course fees. Applications are now open for the 20/21 academic year.
Legal Innovation Centre
The Legal Innovation Centre was established in 2016 with the support of Allen & Overy and a number of other key partners. A pioneering collaboration between the School of Law and the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems at Ulster University, the Centre promotes and supports innovation in legal services, bringing together research into new legal technology and opportunities for lawyers to develop essential legal tech skills.
The synergy in the corporate values of civic responsibility, advancing knowledge and innovation shared between the Legal Innovation Centre and Allen & Overy, made them the obvious lead partner. Senior Allen & Overy employees sit on the Centre’s Advisory Board and have been key speakers at some of its high-profile industry events including an international conference on AI in the Future of Law & Business, industry breakfast seminars on law and disruptive technology, and monthly Lunch-and-Learn workshops.
The Legal Innovation Centre’s collaborative research partnership with Allen & Overy was recently shortlisted as a finalist in the Ulster University Excellence Awards’ business category. Exploring both transformational skills development and product development, the research focuses on Legal Language Identification Intelligence, Semantic Search and the development of NDA Risk Analysis, Company Search, and Text Extractors. The success of these projects has led to the co-development of operational templates for a new industry guide sharing best practice findings.
Jane Hollway, Director of the Legal Innovation Centre believes the partnership with Allen & Overy represents an unrivalled opportunity. She says:
“Allen & Overy has been forward-thinking and steadfast in its support of the Legal Innovations Centre. As a firm, it operates to the forefront of innovation, delivering legal services to an international client base out of Belfast with the help of leading- edge tech-enabled platforms and solutions.
“Allen & Overy provides an unprecedented opportunity to legal and computer science graduates throughout Northern Ireland to work and learn on a global stage. In my view it instils a sense of opportunity into the NI legal graduate market.”
Creating a better future
The ongoing partnership with Allen & Overy has helped Ulster develop a range of specialist Legal Innovation courses including a new, leading-edge MSc/LLM in Corporate Law, Computing and Innovation, complete with a placement in the global law firm. It has helped ensure that these courses are strategically aligned with current industry trends and that vital research is at the heart of all our work, ensuring our students, and indeed the future legal workforce, are equipped with the necessary skills to provide the professional support services that our society requires.
Angela Clist, Partner & Head of Legal Services Centre at Allen & Overy shares why they continue to work with Ulster:
“At a time of significant turbulence in the business world, we are determined to drive towards our vision to become the world's most innovative law firm. We are committed to creating an environment where the brightest minds can flourish and our partnership with Ulster University is key to positioning ourselves, and our clients, for the future.”