Major law firms prepare for Brexit


With Britain’s future relationship with the EU unclear, 58% of law firms surveyed by MLex said they have already drawn up plans to move elements of their operations to a jurisdiction within the EU following Brexit. Forty-two percent of UK corporates said they would definitely relocate in-house legal staff after formal departure, the survey found.

As a result of these plans, the majority of lawyers surveyed felt that another city could rival London as Europe’s leading legal centre.

MLex surveyed 100 senior lawyers, including partners at major law firms and in-house lawyers at UK corporates.

Robert McLeod, chief executive officer of MLex, said the data shows “concerns that are weighing heavily on the City in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU”.

He added that several major law firms have already registered their lawyers in other jurisdictions.

“Our results highlight that many others may now follow suit, whether new agreements are negotiated before Britain formally leaves the EU or not,” he said.

The City’s lawyers on Brexit:

• Eighty-six percent of in-house lawyers said that they are concerned that the possible loss of passporting into the single market will have an impact on the size of their company’s future operations and headcount

• One in five in-house lawyers also said that they are not confident in their company being able to trade with other EU countries whilst Brexit is on-going

• Sixty-one percent felt that another city could rival London as Europe’s leading legal centre

• Cities in Germany (33%) and Spain (29%) were favoured by both groups for rivalling London as Europe’s leading legal centre

• Forty-six percent of the partners at law firms said that they have set up a dedicated steering group to examine how Brexit will impact the business

McLeod said: “Without a passporting agreement in place, the UK’s position as the EU’s largest financial centre could be jeopardised by Brexit. Both in-house and external legal experts are expected to be called upon to advise on how the post-Brexit regulation model will affect the operations of financial firms.”

• A version of this article appeared on WSJ City, a made-for-mobile app that combines the best of the Wall Street Journal and Financial News, tailored for an audience in the City of London. Download here

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