Law firms predict heavier workloads during Brexit run-up

With a tentative Brexit date now locked in, most firms are expecting an onrush of work over the next 12 months.

Stanislav Popov

Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of respondents to a recent survey undertaken by Clayton Legal reported that the expected workloads to increase in at least one specialism at their firm during 2017 as the Government prepared to trigger Article 50 in March. Meanwhile, around 87 per cent of respondents said that their firm’s overall headcount would either stay steady or increase over the next year. Hiring sentiment seemed to be most buoyant among those professionals working in areas directly impacted by EU-level legislation – around 90 percent of EU Law professionals expected static or growing headcounts in the coming year, compared to 83 per cent for those in Financial Services.

 Short-term strength

Clayton Legal managing director Lynn Sedgwick commented: ‘Despite some commentators expressing concerns over the potential impact that Brexit could have on demand for legal services in the UK, it is clear, in the short-term at least, that law firms expect workload to increase… Though it remains difficult to ascertain the long-term implications of such an unprecedented political shift, the outlook for the rest of the year and beyond certainly seems positive for legal profession and firms alike.’

Brexit timeline

Speaking to the press yesterday, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the United Kingdom will have only until October 2018 to negotiate the terms of its exit from the bloc if it triggers Article 50 in March 2017 as planned. ‘Time will be very short,’ he warned. ‘All in all, there will be less than 18 months. If, as Theresa May has said, we receive notification by the end of March, it is safe to say the negotiations could start a few weeks later and an Article 50 agreement would have to be reached by October 2018.’ Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will today hear the third day of the Government’s appeal on its right to use royal prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 without a vote in Parliament. The appeal hearing will conclude tomorrow, with a judgement from the court’s 11 justices not expected until early in the new year.

Sources: Clayton Legal; The Guardian

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