Posted in News on 12 Aug 2016
You have got to hand it to the legal profession; they are a resilient and resourceful lot.
Nobody is sticking their heads in the sand about the EU referendum result; Allen and Overy’s global managing partner Andrew Ballheimer described Brexit as “the largest demerger in history” and Brexit dominated Law Society President Robert Bourns’ inaugural presidential speech at the president's inauguration event.
But lawyers have been around for about 800 years, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the UK’s law firms and Solicitors are taking steps to Brexit proof their futures.
A record number of UK based Solicitors were admitted to practice in Ireland during the first 6 months of 2016. As a consequence, ironically, of an EU directive issued in 1989, Solicitors who in the first instance qualified in England, Wales or Northern Ireland only need to apply for admission rather than pass the Irish QLTT. The Irish Law Society is reporting a 300% year on year increase in numbers with the majority of applications originating from large London-headquartered firms, with many specialising in EU and competition law.
EU qualified lawyers have the right to argue before EU tribunals. EU qualified lawyers do not however, have to reside or provide advice from within an EU member state. The strategy is as simple as it is beautiful. Retain the platform, keep hold of the brains, business stays with the firm.
Some firms are going further and looking into the feasibility of opening offices in Dublin; Pinsent Masons are apparently looking for office space and BLM are in the process of acquiring larger premises. Belt and braces as they say. Understandably, Irish eyes are smiling at the opportunities UK Brexit may deliver and the prospect that the brain drain, driven by a 5-year long recession that began in 2008, is starting to reverse.
At the end of 2015 there were 15,196 Solicitors on the Irish roll compared to 132,245 in England and Wales. 3.67% of Irish Law Society members are under 30 compared to 12.4% of the England Wales roll.