Brexit, City Law Firms and the Irish Contingency Connection

[fusion_builder_container background_color=”transparent” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”0″ padding_right=”0″ hundred_percent=”yes” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]A recent ‘The Lawyer’ article confirms the extent to which Ireland, and other European nations, factor in the contingency planning of major City law firms, in the run-up and aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

Brexit will have far-reaching implications for both UK and non-UK clients, who will need to think carefully about where they want to do their business.

Law firms are bracing themselves for a surge in client demand now Britain has voted to leave the European Union but have been contingency planning for Brexit for many months.

“It was largely seen as a domestic issue,” explains Simmons partner Curtis. “But as the polls narrowed and Brexit became more realistic, the volume of calls from clients outside the UK increased.”

As a result, some partners said that relationships between their UK and European offices have improved throughout Brexit planning. “Discussions about the nitty gritty has brought us closer together,” says Baker & McKenzie partner Ross Denton.

“Our relationship with the EU offices has firmed up,” he adds. “Lively debates have brought us closer together.”

White & Case partner Oliver Brettle echoes these sentiments, explaining: “We’ve found the Brexit events we have organised and the preparation of client advice on its implications have encouraged further international co-operation between our EU offices.”

“Clients in Europe are interested in Brexit as a topic,” he says. “There’s been a real scratching of heads as to why we’d want to leave. Colleagues see Britain as a positive influence to influence the EU towards more free trade.”

Transactional work is the obvious area that will be most affected by Brexit, with no-one really knowing whether deal activity will now pick up post-vote. However, White & Case partner David Crook believes “the willingness of parties to choose English law will continue,” despite Britain severing its ties with the EU.

City competition practices will be some of the worst affected in the legal market, with lawyers seeking admission on the Irish roll and Bar in recent week due to issues of privilege in the EU courts.

This week the Law Society of Ireland confirmed it has admitted a record number of UK solicitors since the start of 2016. The figure is more than three times the total at this point last year and the majority have cited Brexit as their primary reason for seeking admission.

Lawyers explain that admission is not the only thing law firms are seeking in the Republic of Ireland, commenting that firms would be at “a big advantage if they had an office in Dublin.”

“Having a presence there would enable firms to do things they want to,” say one partner. “There’s an availability of low costs flights and places likes Dublin and Cork are easily accessible.”

These are just some of the decisions that law firms will have to take in the next few months, as they attempt to assess the most viable solutions for the firm and their clients. But the element of the unknown remains ride as businesses wait to see how the Government will negotiate the terms.

What is certain is that Brexit has tested firms’ ability to prepare for the future, with both the EU and Scottish Referendum proving to be steep learning curves in contingency planning.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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