Following the Brexit Referendum last week, there has been an immediate impact on law firms, with many seeing a strong increase in enquiries from clients seeking advice. Whilst there is much uncertainty regarding the timetable and the nature of the UK’s future trading relationship with other countries, many law firms have seen clients looking to take advantage of the opportunities offered. Although nothing in the legal landscape has changed immediately, law firms are now seeking to cope with a very different range of queries from clients. From a recruitment and talent management perspective, the immediate impact has been as follows:
- It is clear that international law firm clients remain committed to a global strategy and see the UK as just one strand of that strategy.
- Whilst law firms are reviewing the situation carefully, we have not seen immediate knee-jerk reactions as firms consider the implications of the vote.
- We believe that US firms will continue to see London as an attractive base for building an international presence.
- Some US firms will consider the current situation and weak pound as providing attractive opportunities for lateral hiring and/or mergers.
- Following on from an existing general trend, we are likely to see an further increase in law firm mergers in the UK also as some firms struggle to survive alone in the more uncertain market.
- At both partner and associate level, clients are continuing with existing recruitment processes and our clients continue to issue offer to candidates, as planned.
- In addition, planned retained partner searches are likely to move ahead if they are seen as key strategic requirements.
- Although US and Chinese companies may use the situation to make opportunistic acquisitions in the UK and Europe, in the short to medium term, it is likely that there will be reduced demand for lawyers in transactional areas such as corporate and areas of finance.
- Our Dublin office is seeing an increase in queries from financial institutions looking to hire and move positions from London. We are also assisting law firm clients who are considering opening a Dublin office.
- The Frankfurt market looks set for an increased level of activity, particularly in the financial services sector and we are anticipating that a number of law firms will look to strengthen their Frankfurt offering.
- The Paris market also anticipates increased activity, particularly in financial services.
As a result of the Brexit vote, we anticipate that there will be increased demand as follows:
- Financial Services Regulatory law
- Employment law
- Trade law
- Investment funds
From a geographical perspective, we anticipate that law firms will be looking to follow their clients by expanding within the EU, particularly in Dublin and Frankfurt. Already, a number of banks are looking at relocating staff and parts of their businesses to these cities and certain law firms are likely to follow.
In a Brexit environment where clients face uncertainty, an interim solution can provide very effective talent resource planning. Whilst we are not seeing an immediate need, we anticipate that there will be an increased demand for interim lawyers over the coming months.