London law firms to cut back on EU trainees following Brexit

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As many as 20% of City firms’ trainees are non-British EU citizens — something which may be about to change


City of London law firms’ approach to hiring trainee solicitors is set to be seriously impacted by Brexit, as European Union graduates from outside the UK face being frozen out of the job market.

With non-British EU citizens making up between 10-20% of corporate firms’ London trainee intake, a change in their eligibility to work in this country has been pinpointed as a priority issue for graduate recruitment teams as they deal with the fall out from Thursday’s referendum.

Of particular concern is that blocks on EU students will leave London’s top legal outfits short of people with language skills.

Those involved in recruiting trainees at the major firms are reluctant to go on the record discussing the impact of Brexit on wannabe City lawyers, but privately they admit that the EU students problem is currently the major concern to have arisen.

One graduate recruiter who has worked for a host of leading law firms told Legal Cheek:

The recruitment of EU students runs high among City firms. This is partly because the route to qualification in England and Wales is much shorter than in many European countries, so there are many who study here. The big plus is their language skills. Now suddenly we may not have these people.

It is thought that EU students who already have training contracts will be fine, but those applying ahead of the 31 July recruitment deadline widely followed by London firms could well be affected. Another legal graduate recruiter told us:

With law firms recruiting two years in advance, for 2018, which is of course around the time Britain is set to leave the EU, candidates’ eligibility to work will be factor from now on in.

This news may please British law graduates without training contracts like Karim Khassal, who told Boris Johnson and the other panellists at last week’s Wembley Brexit debate that he felt like he was “at the back of the queue for entry-level jobs”.

However, with the economy likely to take a hit due to Thursday’s decision to leave the EU, it may be that any increased opportunities for UK law graduates are wiped out by recession hit firms cutting training contract numbers.

This was the case after the 2008 crash as law firms scaled back training contract numbers by around a quarter.

Still, with Brexit likely to lead to a flurry of work in the short to medium term as a whole new legal regime is created, it remains too early to predict what will happen to law student and junior lawyer hiring.

What looks likely, though, is that that the fledgling MoneyLaw trend — which has seen a handful of US law firms up their London trainee salaries to an eye-watering £124,000 over the last few weeks — could be stopped in its tracks as firms exercise caution while the economic and political chaos of Brexit plays out.



Although with Boris back tracking and saying free movement of people is still going to happen, then the suggested issue of recruiting EU students might not be an issue after all.



Great, so like we said all along, we’ll end up subject to all the same EU laws and regulations, but without a vote in the Parliament and without any top level political influence.

Just amazing.

Thank you north and Midlands of England.



But we retain our sovereignty.



if the sovereignty means miserable economy standing alone while all other developed countries trade freely then yes, you have all the sovereignty you need.



The mere existance of article 50 evidences that Britain, and every other MS, is sovereign.


Corbyn. Sympathiser.

But we’ll have Prime Minister BORIS LEGERND, so that’s something!


Great news. Get used to it!

Yippee ki-yay



Best seat to qualify into now ?



Personal injury with Slater and Gordon.



Insolvency litigation?



Conveyancing at Irwin Mitchells. Top 5 practice in the world, blud.



I have little sympathy with this seeing as this kind of thing is precisely why people voted leave at all. 20% is a pretty high number for our own students to be pushed aside for, and we have plenty of languages students here. There is no reason why EU students should be chosen ahead of our own for that reason.

I voted remain but am quickly coming around to the leave vote, and if this means UK citizens have a better chance for law jobs then I personally think thats a good thing.



Best students should get the best jobs. It’s a massive shame that away students are likely to face an uphill battle in the English legal market. In large international law firms, having a diverse group of Trainees is important and I’m concerned this will not be maintained post-Brexit.



And that is why EU students should not be favoured over non-EU, non-British students.



Jobs for substandard law students is a really great reason to vote leave.

It’s not as if the coming economic decline will reduce the total number of training contracts available, after all.



In response to your comment:

a) Our best students still make it, even if it takes longer (as in my case). London is a global market and therefore seeks to attract the best. The fact you want to remove that competition because the country owes you something for graduating says a lot about you.
b) People like you do not think ahead. Fine we reduce the number of EU trainees, but if the amount of work decreases in the City due to leaving, then there will be fewer hires anyway.
c) Even if my career is sidetracked, I cannot support something that will make people in this country 3-20% poorer by 2030 according to all economic forecasts whether from the Institute of Fiscal Studies to the OECD. To support something because you think more British students will get training contracts is silly.



UK students are miles behind their continental counterparts in language skills, and it isn’t like law firms have any particular benefit to hiring EU students – if they are taking 20% of jobs, it is because they are good enough for them and have the skills the recruiter want. Saying that these are ‘English jobs’ is the kind of lazy protectionism that leads to a lower quality of legal work and the exclusion of talented potential lawyers based on nationality.



This is the kind of positive discrimination that seeks to protect a group based on no merit at all – and we all know what this has led to in the past. People from diverse backgrounds make City law firms exactly what they are – they would not be able to compete on their level in this global economy without appreciating and catering for the cultural and linguistic sensitivities of their international clients. Your opinion goes against the very hart of the theory of evolution in fact – after all, diversification has served us all well so far.

I will laugh so hard if the UK negotiates an exit plan involving a membership of the EEA. This will teach all your fellow xenophobes the value of free movement.



law firms always made it clear that the language skill itself does not make you stand out. Those EU students were chosen, not because they speak one more language, but that they are at least as bright as those English students with language skills.



Can’t the law firms just apply for visas for non
EU students in the event that we don’t negotiate
a deal to remain in the European single market
(Which I think is highly unlikely)



Not all firms have the ability to get visas. Those that do might choose to not give them to trainees, especially when they might have to spend more on getting visas for more senior hires.



This is nonsense. Free movement will have to be agreed to in order for us to retain access to the European single market .


Brexit won! Fewer grads working in London







Anyone who uses the language of “win” “lose” in this situation has shown us who they really are. This is not a win-lose matter, and the losers who you mention still have a role to play in ensuring we negotiation an adequate agreement with the EU.



You utter chump.



Impact on wage rises?



‘There is no reason why EU students should be chosen ahead of our own for that reason.’

If the EU students can speak more languages and are simply better candidates for the job based on their skills and experience of course the should be chosen! Stop feeling so entitled!



I’m one for four language graduates I know who have gone into law, unlike the tens of dozens of history graduates.

If law firms want language skills, then maybe the potential trainees should wake up and get on with learning a language like the rest of Europe does.

Classic British laziness and entitlement being blamed on EU workers. Again.



I hear most firms are waiting to see how Addleshaw proceeds and will then follow suit…



“If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, your rights to live, work or get benefits won’t change unless the government passes new laws.”

“If you think you’ve been discriminated against since the referendum, for example if you’ve been unfairly refused work or housing, or told your rights have changed, you should contact your nearest Citizens Advice.”



It definitely is a real shame, we are leaving the EU. And I am probably amongst the most disgruntled at the new regime. However, I think it is not right for this uncertainty to just transform into pessimism that leads to economic inefficiency and a loss of international competitiveness. It is down to the Chancellor and the guys at the Bank of England alongside Boris and the rest of the leave group, to deliver to us a clear successful plan that can in turn bring greater economic growth to the UK, than what we have had in the EU.
We need to give them time.
And we don’t really have any other choice for the foreseeable future than to get behind them,for the benefit of all of us.

This economic doom and gloom rhetoric, is very much as likely to be short-term as it is long-term. Japan have stated they are very much open not just the same levels of trade with the UK, but an increased amount, China have pledged confidence in trade relations, Canada and also Australia. John Kerry is flying in I think tomorrow or the next day to further address trade relations with the UK. We are still going to maintain very strong trade relations with the rest of Europe, it’s true, arguably we’re open to a bigger international market now.

At the end of the day uncertainty, which has created a lot of the economic turmoil we have seen in the news can be easily wiped away. Furthermore with the right policies in place, who’s to say productivity (though it may seem likely at the moment) may not surpass the levels we have seen with us being in the UK?

And on that point who’s to say in the long run city legal firms won’t bounce back. All these things remain possibilities for the future.

The leave campaign has to deliver though



Could, may, if………. it’s been 3 days people!!! How about we give it a month before we recommend building a wall around London for the Night’s watch ( which will up obviously be contracted out to G4S due to no one in the south actually wanting the job).



Oh my! Great news for all the mediocre poly-students 🙂



So they will pick British citizens over EU citizens which they would otherwise pick – that sounds legally suspect, although having gone through the recruitment process of various City firms (including one which thankfully offered me a training contract) nothing would surprise me about how utterly useless they are.


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