Salmond fishing

There’s nothing like an Olympic Games for stirring up some nationalistic fervour, and the scenes of jubilation that have accompanied each Team GB win certainly paint a picture of a nation united – even if we should by rights be cheering on Team UK.

Margaret Taylor

Northern Ireland’s Alan Campbell is hardly likely to quibble about donning a British shirt, though, especially not now the single sculler has collected a bronze medal while wearing one. In the same vein, the fervent Union Jack-waving after each Team GB win, helped in no small part by Scots Tim Baillie, Katherine Grainger, Chris Hoy and Heather Stanning, is sure to do nothing to forward the cause of Scottish independence.

It’s just as well for Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, then, that some good news looks to be coming his way. As we report on today, Scottish Development International (SDI), a joint venture between the Scottish government and its economic development agencies Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, has launched a three-pronged attack on the legal sector aimed at attracting lower-cost jobs to Scotland.

The premise is simple: Scotland has proved itself to be a key destination for call-centre style work, particularly at the more skilled end of the market, and if banks like Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan can operate successful service hubs there then law firms can too. Law firms, legal process outsourcers and in-house legal functions are all within SDI’s sights.

The idea is not a new one: Invest Northern Ireland went down a similar route early last year when it managed to entice big-name firms such as Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith to Belfast. Being able to pay the firms £2.5m and £200,000, respectively, is sure to have helped.

Independence aside, there’s nothing Salmond likes to hear more than the promise of a jobs boost for his country – his controversial dealings with Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump are testament to that.

With Scotland fishing from the same top 50 law firm pool as Northern Ireland, and being able to offer the same kind of incentives to boot, Salmond could get some intra-union competition yet.