The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

plenty of work to do in all kinds of areas – from immigration to commercial law and much else besides. In fact, Brexit has already generated a lot of demand for lawyers. Meanwhile, some international City practices would feel little impact in any Brexit scenario because their clients are largely based outside both the UK and the EU. However, for many lawyers, the impact could be much more serious. At the time of this book going to print, the UK is weeks away from leaving the European Union on 31 October, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted must happen with or without a trade agreement being reached with the remaining 27 EU member states. If the UK exits without a deal, UK lawyers will no longer have the automatic right to represent clients in the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg and will instead have to try to secure audience rights through other means. There are various ways around the issue that may involve residency rights, citizenship and even taking exams, but no common solution. “A hard Brexit thanks to Boris Johnson means that those British lawyers without a workable and robust solution will lose their legal professional privilege and audience rights,” Trevor Soames, a competition lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan told Bloomberg in July. “Those working from London without a credible Brussels presence will lose out as I doubt international, non-UK, clients will go to London-based lawyers for Brussels-related work.” Brexit is an issue that many of us follow daily and are simultaneously completely sick of, so we’ll keep this section relatively brief, but clearly, those interested in working in the law should be engaged with the subject over the months and years ahead. Diversity in the profession Looking inwards, the legal profession isstill nowherenear asdiverseor asaccessible to the rangeof people that it shouldbe, especially the

Act 2012, which removed financial support for thoseunable toafford legal advice inmost cases involvinghousing, welfare, medical negligence, employment, debt and immigration. Inother words, as the report states, “access to thecourts for lower-incomegroups has beendramatically rolledback.” The conclusion of Alston’s report is shocking: “The number of civil legal aid cases declined by a staggering 82%between 2010–2011 and 2017–2018. As a result, many poor people are unable to effectively claimand enforce their rights, have lost access to critical support, and some have even reportedly lost custody of their children. Lack of access to legal aid also exacerbates extreme poverty, since justiciable problems that could have been resolvedwith legal representation go unaddressed.” In employment law, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has warned that legal aid cuts are allowing employers to get away with discrimination. Alongside removing employment tribunal claims from the scope of funding, legal aid applicants must go through a mandatory telephone gateway, which rejects tens of thousands of cases on the basis of a single phone call. Figures reported by the LawGazette show that from 2013-2018, over 33,000 calls alleging discrimination were made to the gateway service, but only 1,600 received face-to-face legal advice. Proving financial eligibility is onerous, an issue worsened by the fact that many legal aid applicants are employed on zero-hour contracts, which make finances more complicated. “Challenging such complex issues as discrimination should never be a ‘David vs Goliath’ battle,” said the commission’s chair, David Isaac. “The system is failing if individuals are left to fight cases themselves at an employment tribunal or in court.” Brexit Whatever the results of Brexit, the good news for lawyers is that there will always be


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