Dates for your diary: The big legal affairs stories to look out for in 2017

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It’s the start of 2017, and us law lovers over at Legal Cheek are already looking forward to a jam-packed year of legal affairs goodness.

Here are some of the biggest of the big landmark legal affairs stories set to hit press in the next 12 months.

The impending demise of King & Wood Mallesons

It looks almost inevitable now that once well-respected City outfit King & Wood Mallesons will enter administration at the beginning of this year. The firm is no longer paying all its staff and has notified its intention to appoint administrators.

A glimmer of hope: a number of magic circle firms and other top corporate players have agreed to take on the stricken giant’s trainees. As for future trainees, it looks like they’ll be given priority over other candidates when it comes to filling training contract vacancies.

Judgment due in the Brexit Supreme Court challenge

After four days of fierce advocacy, intense constitutional law arguments and a series of wacky ties, the eleven justices are expected to give their Miller judgment this month. The press will be all over this one.

Expect more law student syllabus-changing Supreme Court rulings

Let’s not get totally swept away in the Brexit bonanza. There’s a ton of other interesting appeal judgments likely to be released in the new year.

There’s the case of MM, which concerns potentially discriminatory immigration rules — coined the “anti-love law” — which impose financial restrictions on non-EEA spouses and family members wanting to join their loved ones in the United Kingdom.

Eagle eyed readers may also remember the A and B case, the claimants in which argued health secretary (and pantomime villain) Jeremy Hunt had breached his legal duty by not providing Northern Irish women abortions in the UK on the NHS. There are also some interesting human rights issues in this case, so expect a thought-provoking ruling.

Though there’s a whole host of other Supreme Court rulings due, the fourth and final Legal Cheek would like to point out is Paulley. This case can aptly be described as the ‘wheelchair vs pram’ case, and concerns which takes priority when bus space is limited. We’re really interested to see which way this will go.

Changes to legal education

On 9 January, a Solicitors Regulation Authority consultation into major changes to legal education ends. It looks like the LLB -> LPC -> TC route to qualification could be turned on its head and replaced, at least in part, by the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE). The big hope is that this will make qualification cheaper, but at what cost?

The bar is also considering a similar transformation to its educational structure. Extending its consultation to the end January, one radical new idea — backed by the Bar Council — involves splitting the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) into two parts, with law school attendance compulsory for only the second half.

Merger mania

Last year was a good year for merger stories, and the fun continues into 2017. On 1 February, new transatlantic tie-up Eversheds Sutherland (Eversheds and US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan) will go live. Then it’ll be CMS Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang’s turn to solidify their status. This merger will go live 1 May.

Introduction of the apprentice levy

Big companies — that means big law firms — will be forced to pay an apprentice levy of 0.5%. This is all part of the government’s plan to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020, and it comes into force on 6 April.

Aspiring barrister-friendly pupillage gateway to debut

As of 2017, the pupillage gateway dates have been moved so students will know if they have secured a training placement before committing to the costly Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Instead of April/May, bar hopefuls will now make their applications in January. Best of luck!

New judicial stars

Come December, the Supreme Court bench will look pretty different to how it does now. For one, president Lord Neuberger will be retiring this summer, as too will Lord Clarke. With a whole host of statutory retirement dates coming up in 2018, other judges might soon be announcing their intention to step down sooner. Keep your eyes peeled.

Law firm gender pay gap naming and shaming

From 6 April, all employers with at least 250 employees will have to publish gender pay gap figures. With law firms quick to profess their love for diversity, it’ll be interesting to see whether the figures match up.

The Great Repeal Bill

The legal twitterati will be all over this one, we can just feel it. A draft bill repealing the European Communities Act 1972 is expected in the spring of this year. This will end the supremacy of EU law over domestic law, something which will no doubt thrill Brexiters. But it’s likely to be a constitutional law minefield, so hang tight.

It looks like it’s going to be a busy 2017!