44 Legal Services Continued from page 42

will actually happen and whether a favourable deal for the UK will be reached. Some law fi rms have recruited ‘heads of Brexit’ to deal with the surge in queries; some have set up 24-hotlines for clients. T ody says: “Businesses across a

range of sectors are either starting their Brexit planning or moving that planning to a more detailed level. In the case of some sectors, such as fi nancial services and life sciences, these plans are being put into action.” James Davies, divisional

managing partner at law fi rm Lewis Silkin, says: “T e ramifi cations

of a no-deal, hard Brexit are meanwhile becoming clearer, with the government having published various guidance papers. “Either way, the demand for legal

advice to business on managing the ramifi cations of leaving the EU will be considerable. International trade lawyers are becoming like gold dust, with law fi rms anticipating an exponential rise in instructions from clients ill-equipped for new trading rules. Similarly, immigration teams are expanding on the expectation that client requirements will increase. “T e longer term, however, is less

predictable. A contracting economy would inevitably be bad for

commercial law fi rms as a decline in economic activity would result in a reduced demand for legal services.”

Freedom of movement Ayesha Vardag, president of Vardags and widely regarded as Britain’s top divorce lawyer, believes that the UK leaving the EU will give Britain and its legal services a chance to shine: “As Britain exits the EU, a great swathe of law-making powers will be come home to Westminster. Firstly, companies and individuals will need to take advice as to what this homecoming — and any new agreement with the EU — actually means for them and their cross- border activities.

As Britain exits the EU, a great swathe of law-making powers will be come home to Westminster. Companies and individuals will need to take advice as to what this means for them

FINANCIAL SERVICES DISTRIBUTED WITH “Yet it’s after Brexit — when we’re

free to make our own rules — that the real opportunities emerge.” Vardag concludes: “T e English

legal system has always been a gold standard of incorruptible justice and plain, sensible, realistic dealing, chosen to govern contracts and determine disputes throughout the world.”

Not all good news T e Law Society believes Brexit could have a negative eff ect on UK legal services, predicting almost £3bn could be stripped from the legal sector turnover by 2025 if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal. Law Society president Christina

Blacklaws says: “UK legal services look to have been relatively buoyant through 2017-18, thanks to a combination of Brexit-related work, steady demand from UK businesses and an uptick in business from non-UK clients taking advantage of the depreciation of the pound. “However, Brexit is likely to have

a signifi cant negative eff ect on the legal sector in the medium and longer term. T is is largely due to the knock-on impact of Brexit on the wider economy as demand for legal services relies on the success of other sectors of the UK economy. “Our econometric model predicts

2.2% average annual growth from 2019 — 2025 with a soft Brexit. T is drops to just 1.5% with ‘harder’ Brexit options such as a Canada- style free trade agreement (FTA). “If the UK had to fall back on


Word Trade Organisation (WTO) rules — a ‘no deal’ scenario — growth would only be 1.1% per year on average over this period.”

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