Western Mail, 24th September 2009
A Facebook group formed as a discussion forum for the profession by a Cardiff lawyer has mushroomed into a 2,800-strong European legal network – in just a year.

The European Lawyers organisation launched by South Wales law professional Claire Cooper, was established to discuss issues commonly faced by lawyers in different jurisdictions.

As well as becoming a group with global membership, it has recently developed into an event management group for the European profession, and this weekend Ms Cooper will be a keynote speaker at its conference in Brussels.

It was launched on Facebook by Ms Cooper, a relatively recently-qualified young solicitor with Cardiff-based Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice, along with Güvenç Ketenci of Ketenci Law Office, Turkey, and Alberto Alemanno an associate professor of EU law at HEC Paris University.

There are now more than 2,800 members from around the world, most of whom are lawyers and academics. However an increasing number of people without a direct connection to the legal world, such as accountants are now showing an interest.

“This has led to a dramatic increase in membership over the past few months and I suppose it would be fair to say the rate of growth has taken us all by surprise” said Ms Cooper, who since joining the Windsor Place practice has become a specialist in dealing with financial disputes surrounding matrimonial issues, including cases with multiple foreign assets and co-habitee disputes.

“We had an idea that Facebook was the best way to contact like-minded lawyers, but we were certainly not prepared for the immediate impact of social networking.”

European Lawyers successfully hosted a networking event in Paris in January this year, which attracted lawyers from around the globe and allowed them to forge new relationships on an international scale.

The next event is at Espace 53 in Brussels tomorrow and Friday when Ms Cooper, 26, will be one of the keynote speakers.

There will be networking events and lectures from six speakers on European Law.

Ms Cooper said “In the modern era of needing reliable and quick resources over many continents it is fundamental to lawyers to be able to rely upon good contacts in alternate jurisdictions

“It is hoped that the group will go from strength to strength and grow into an international organisation facilitating networking and lecture events across the globe.”

Melanie Hamer, joint Managing Partner of Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice said
“This is an excellent example of the power of internet networking for young professionals and I am not aware of a single professional initiative that has taken off at such a remarkable speed as European Lawyers.

“Claire is a first-rate advocate and has clearly made a significant impact on the legal profession after a short-time in it. Her efforts have also helped raise the profile of the legal profession in Wales and deserve to be widely applauded.”