The Brexit effect: UK lawyers ‘unlikely to be of interest’ says international law firm in new job ad

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Though perfect English still essential at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s Brussels office


An international law firm embarking on a European recruitment drive has told UK qualified lawyers that they are “unlikely to be of interest”.

In an online job advertisement, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has stated that it is looking to hire “entrepreneurial and ambitious” associates as part of an expansion of its Brussels-based operations.

With “perfect English essential”, the advert may seem an attractive opportunity for UK lawyers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of City life.

But think again. Continuing, the ad reveals that “UK only qualifieds [are] unlikely to be of interest” unless they have a “clear path” to European qualification. Ouch.

The advert in question was posted on LinkedIn several days ago by Trevor Soames. Formerly a competition partner at Shearman & Sterling’s Brussels office, Soames — who only joined Quinn Emanuel earlier this month — has wasted no time in getting down to business.


Nailing his colours to the mast, Soames — who is a barrister and solicitor-advocate — tells viewers of his flashy looking personal website that he has “applied for Belgian citizenship and has no plans to return to the UK post-Brexit.”

Earlier this month it emerged Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has had more lawyers than any other City firm register in the Republic of Ireland in the wake of the Leave vote. Describing it as a “tsunami of new solicitors”, the Irish Law Society revealed that the Anglo-German outfit had transferred 117 of its top lawyers to the Irish roll. It confirmed that 1,347 new solicitors will be added to the roll by the end of 2016.

The course of action appears to be based on the possibility of practice restrictions being imposed on UK qualified lawyers post-Brexit. With uncertainty still surrounding the EU deal negotiations, it seems that Soames — and a host of City outfits — are taking no chances.



Don’t see the problem. “When in Rome” etc.

Will not be hard to fill those posts, most Belgians speak English extremely well as do most Europe-based lawyers.

If it is brexit related then ok, but still – most lawyers in Europe are usually from the continent anyway.


Dr Evil

That’s in Belgium.

That’s where Daddy’s from.



wrong… what all the posts fail to take into account is that this whole story is competition law specific. Brussels is the capital of competition law in Europe with many English and Amercian law firms having their competition HQs over there. Therefore there are many British competition lawyers working there. In fact (based solely on my experience), British and German lawyers are the most common in Brussels law firms.



His formal profile at Quinn Emmanuel literally opens with:

“Trevor Soames has been practising EU competition and regulatory law for more than 30 years. He has been a resident, living and working in Brussels since 1993. To proclaim his commitment to the EU and continental Europe and to preserve his ability to work in Brussels post-Brexit, Trevor has applied for Belgian citizenship and has no plans to return to the UK post-Brexit. He was admitted to the Barreau de Bruxelles on 5 December 2016 as a Belgian Avocat. This will guarantee essential legal privilege and advocacy rights before the EU Courts. Educated at Cambridge University, Trevor is a Barrister (called to the Bar in 1984) and a Solicitor-Advocate. ”

The guy is a verifiable nutbag. On a work profile, he opens with a politically charged anti-Brexit, pro-EU statement. I think he’s alone in doing that. I’m sure he has some kind of client following and can do what he likes, but at best clients will think it’s a little odd.



unless they have a “clear path” to European qualification

So basically any English solicitor with three years PQE. It is pretty common knowledge that one satisfying that requirement can become a Solicitor in Ireland by paying 400 Euros and submitting an application form?

Sounds like the firm should do some research in order to avoid the adverse publicity that could be generated from such an advert.


Not Amused

To be fair, we didn’t exactly have free movement of lawyers before Brexit.

Moreover, if one day the EU does implement a free market in legal services then that would require harmonised legal systems. We can’t even persuade the Scots to adopt English Law and we were deeply lacking in influence in the EU anyway (one of the reasons it is so poorly run …). So ultimately I think we were facing the inevitable harmonisation to a Civil Law system.

I would rather not have to retrain. Nor would I want the nation to adopt a legal system that I consider to be fundamentally inferior and bad for business.



I recall appearing against an Advocate from Romania in one of the County Courts in London, I was quite alarmed by the process and reported him to the BSB who advised that there was nothing they could do unless a client made a complaint.

Giving that the guy didn’t understand the rules of evidence, or even basic concepts of the CPR, I highly doubt he was giving clients sufficient client care advice.

I don’t think, with the exception of niche practice areas, that there was ever an appetite for a free market in relation to lawyers, in any event the large practices that require international expertise will usually have the funds and resources to sponsor the necessary visa or work permits required.



Name and shame or it never happened


Opinionated but ignorant

And that advocate was Albert Einstein



“I would rather not have to retrain. Nor would I want the nation to adopt a legal system that I consider to be fundamentally inferior and bad for business.”

I presume you would have to retrain because you have trained in common law only.

Given your limited exposure to it, how can you come to the conclusion that civil law (or rather, all of the numerous and very diverse jurisdictions that follow this system) is “fundamentally inferior and bad for business”?

I side your comment otherwise regarding the lack of free movement of lawyers – and I don’t think there should or will be such free movement in the foreseeable future. If I’m qualified in Germany, I’m always going to be completely out of my depth in France, or Denmark, or the Netherlands, and it’s not (just) because of the language. The EU can’t undo centuries of legal history.



The duty to disclose in good faith certain has a chilling effect on the way business contracts are negotiated



Until Brexit you were free to practice as a UK qualified lawyer in the EU as a European lawyer. As Brussels is the capital of competition law, many British lawyers moved to Brussels to English and American firms (like Cleary or Skadden which have their competition hq there) to practice merger control and antitrust. Because of Brexit their future is uncertain. Those competition lawyers who would like to work on $130bn mega-mergers have to do it either in the US or in Brussels. Now English lawyers will be out of the game whereas until now they were amongst the most preferred ones


Not Amused

Oh thanks. What other terms of the Brexit deal are you privy to?



you are free to***



What has Brexit got to do with thus?

The advert us looking for people with a different accreditation / licensing requirements – ie competency to deal with Belgium matters…..makes sense…

The UK has the exact same requirements for foreign qualifies lawyers seeking to work in the UK, who need to cross qualify into English jurisdiction…..

No Brexit angle here. This is misleading. Whatever your political agenda is, you can’t just make things up.

(I’m not just saying this to be mean – ordinarily, I’m quote the fan of lc)



It is misleading because it fails to mention what Brussels law firms are all about: competition law. And until now any UK qualified lawyers had the right to practice as EU competition lawyers in Brussels (the capital of competition law with salaries higher than in the City, in many cases equivalent to the US). This will end soon especially as all European lawyers are interested in kicking out the English and get their positions. Which is understandable 🙁



This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.


Irwin Mitchell

Fuming – they clearly haven’t heard about us!



DWF have an office there too. Mega. I bet all the big firms are “well scared”.



Even though this advert has some logic, logic never stops the Brexiteers from crapping their underwear in anger as they bombard the internet with ultra-patriotic sentiments about how the UK is taking back its sovereignty so the EU doesn’t matter anyway



Brexiteers include former Chancellors of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont and the former Conservative Party leader and barrister, Michael Howard who have expressed their patriotism and opinions on Brexit on the Internet critiquing pro-E.U. Lunacy (certainly Lawson has)…are these lads among the ‘angry’ Brexiteers you have described?

Remoaners also express their anger (Brexit legal cases and on the BBC, FT, Economist, etc) and their undying love for the E.U….like it was the E.U. that provided the military, healthcare system, system of benefits etc that has protected or benefitted them or their fellow citizens…

As for this article it reflects the extent to which some Pro-EUers will prostate themselves to show their anti-Brexit sentiments even if it means insulting their country of birth or education.



Heh, prostate.



This is such a bummer for barristers even with 3PQE: the Irish route is unavailable without the sitting of exams.



Best get back in the library then chief!




This chap is widely thought to be a grade A chopper


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