Shining on the world’s stage

March 5, 2019

Kevin Robertson, partner and head of Newcastle office at Womble Bond Dickinson, reflects on the global opportunities for the law firm and its fellow North East-based businesses

The North East as a region benefits significantly from international business; many of our businesses are either foreign-owned, have global operations or benefit from a large amount of import and export activity. As a result, the North East is one of the only UK regions to regularly boast a positive balance of trade.

The European Union is the single biggest market for the North East’s goods, accounting for 62 per cent in total. Therefore, the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and particularly the movement of goods is still a major concern for our businesses and something we are watching very carefully and advising on for a number of clients.

At Womble Bond Dickinson, we have been advising clients on a truly global scale for many years. Our network and reach has grown significantly recently, we now boast 27 offices across the UK and US with the addition of a Houston office earlier this year. We have strong relationships beyond the US, particularly in Europe where we have a strategic alliance with Redeker Sellner Dahs in Germany. We are also proud to be the only UK law firm to be a member of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading network of independent law firms with access to legal expertise in more than 100 countries.

There is a huge amount of opportunity for local businesses by expanding into new geographical markets and as a full-service law firm, we are able to advise clients on all aspects relating to international business. With input from colleagues and partners in other jurisdictions, we can support on matters including company incorporation, immigration, trademarks and other local legal and regulatory requirements.

The North East remains a key focus for the firm, as it is home to our largest office, and we support a number of key initiatives to support the development and growth of our business community. We continue to work closely with the North East England Chamber of Commerce (NEECC) and Department for International Trade (DIT), profiling the region as a fantastic place to do business through its trade missions. As a firm, we have supported a number in recent times across many sectors and locations.

In September 2018, we were delighted to support a delegation from the North East Automotive Alliance and DIT to South Carolina and Atlanta, with the aim to strengthen ties across the automotive industries. This is a prime example where our region has similarities with those of our colleagues in the US, allowing us to share insight and knowledge. The visit included various visits to manufacturers before attending the Southern Automotive Conference.

Last year concluded with a visit to Boston in December. The trip had a specific focus on improving collaboration and delivering investment and innovation for businesses across the Northern Powerhouse, particularly here in the North East.

It also coincided with a delegation from Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and Newcastle City Council; hosted at
our Boston office, the delegation focused on the region’s expertise in ageing, nutrition, digital, science and technology with the aim of building strategic partnerships in the US.

Later this month, we’re supporting another DIT trade mission, this time to Atlanta with a specific focus on the technology sector. This is another great opportunity for the sector in the region, which is thriving and worth almost £1bn.

The opportunities presented by the US for businesses across the region are vast and it is something that we’re very keen to continue supporting and facilitating on both sides of the Atlantic.

Womble Bond Dickinson

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