Morning Briefing: Legal profession reacts to Brexit

by Steve Randall27 Jun 2016
Legal profession reacts to Brexit
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has thrust law firms into overdrive and also raised questions for lawyers from across Europe who are working in the UK.
Although there will be a two-year period of negotiation before the ‘Brexit’ is final, the legal profession will be at the centre of preparations for the business community but there will be many more years of work to be done even after the UK actually leaves the bloc.
Some areas of law that are currently covered by EU rules rather than UK laws may be added to the country’s statute in the short term to allow them to be changed or removed at a later date.
Simon Gleeson, partner at Clifford Chance, told the BBC "You can't have blank areas in a legal system.”
Many law firms have already added advice sections to their websites to give clients some idea of what may happen to contracts, litigation, employment law and many other areas which are likely to be impacted.
There are also concerns for lawyers; pre-referendum there was already a rise in applications for practice in Ireland from UK-based lawyers.
Paul Philip, chief executive of the UK’s Solicitors Regulatory Authority, has issued a statement:
"We, like everyone else, will be looking at the implications of the Brexit vote in general and for the legal market in particular. Any transition will take time and it would be premature to draw any further conclusions at this point."
“There are of course European lawyers working in firms that we regulate throughout England and Wales who may have questions about their current role or an application to practice. As it stands there is no impact on your ability to practice or apply. We will keep you updated if this position changes in the future.”
Meanwhile, the president of the Law Society in England & Wales acknowledged the enormity of the work ahead in preparing for Brexit.
Jonathan Smithers gave hope that the law of England & Wales would continue to hold international appeal:
“We do hope England and Wales will continue to be the global centre for legal excellence and we will be offering support and guidance at this time of change and playing our full part in aiding a transition into the post-EU era,” he said.
There could, of course, be further complications ahead if a plan from the Scottish First Minister leads to a split of Scotland from the rest of the UK.
Aussie law firm among most generous workplaces
Corrs Chambers Westgarth has been named among the top 10 most charitable companies for workplace giving in Australia.
It’s the only law firm in the list from the Australian Charities Fund. Those named have been identified by the ACF’s online tracking tool which analyses workplace giving.
The firm has a workplace giving program and encourages staff to be involved in charitable causes.
Other companies to feature in the top 10 list include JB Hi-Fi, SEEK, Collins Food Group, Pacific Equity Partners, Atlassian, Event Hospitality & Entertainment, Flight Centre, BHP Billiton and PwC.
Boost for projects finance at Freshfields
Vincent Seah has joined the project finance practice of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Singapore as counsel.
Seah was previously with Shearman & Sterling in the city state and adds capability to Freshfields’ Southeast Asia team having worked with the region’s foremost energy companies, financial institutions and sovereign wealth funds on substantial investments in multiple jurisdictions.