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

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Commercial awareness gold right here


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!



Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that the gender ‘pay gap’ is not due to institutionalised sexism or the patriarchy, but due to women preferring to work part time, spend time at home with their children and leave the career rat race altogether.

I say that as a woman.



You’re wasting your time – this gets pointed out every time, and Katie always ignores this.



I’m not sure that it is always down to a woman ‘preferring’ to work part time and stay at home with her children. Many women do this because it is the most economical option. A lot of women earn less than their male partners before they have children and so it is seen as the ‘sensible’ choice for the mother to sacrifice her career.



If you check the official UK government stats, before the age of 40 there is no pay gap between the sexes (in fact women get paid slightly more!). This disproves your claim.



The 2016 ONS statistics show a gender pay gap in every age group, with a significant gap appearing after the age of 40. Although I do not dispute that some women choose to work part time and/or stay at home to look after their children simply because they want to, it is not accurate to say that this decision is never based on economic factors to do with women often earning less than their male partners.



I never said it is never based on economic factors – the point I wished to make is that when a woman gets pregnant (in most instances aged 40 or below) she is not more likely to be earning less than the father.

So you are right to point out that many women take the ‘sensible choice’, but that’s just a statement of the obvious I.e. some women earn less than their partners.

Unless your solution is to pay all women more than all men your observation is meaningless.

Not Amused

Or women could chose to marry less wealthy men


I understand the point that you are making, but I don’t see where this assertion comes from? The 2016 statistics show a gap in earnings in all age groups not just in the over 40s.

My observation is that you have cited women working part time and/or staying at home with their children as the cause of the pay gap, I suggest that it may also be an effect.


I also understand the point that you are making, but I don’t think it is a strong one.

Imagine a 35 year old married woman in the UK falls pregnant for the first time today. Your argument (if I am correct) is that this woman is likely to be earning less than her husband, and as a result is more likely than the husband to stay at home to look after the child (thus reducing her future earning potential).

My contention is that this woman is not less likely to be earning less than her husband (presuming they are the same age). I’ve seen different stats, but even the ones you cite indicate there is effectively no wage gap between men aged 20-40 in full-time employment and their female counterparts who have yet to have children.

Thus if these hypothetical parents decide that whoever earns the least will stay at home or work part-time, then it is just as likely to be the husband doing that as the wife.


Excellent point! Gender pay gaps seem to be the result of women stopping work for xyz reason (usually it’s to look after kids, usually because that’s what is “expected” – patriarchy anyone?) and not really because a man in the same job with the same experience is being paid more. A study was done in South Africa, on this very issue, and found that if a woman never got married and never had kids, she earned slightly more (negligible) than her male counterpart.


“And I say that as a woman” Yes, because you speak for all women. You are probably a privileged woman who does not understand the real effects of sexism. Please go educate yourself.


Not quite sure why an abortion case is “commercial awareness gold”



Thanks for this Katie!



Hi Tommy!



Any bets on what other City firms will go pop in 2017? KWM was the first, but definitely won’t be the last.

I reckon it’ll be DWF and Irwin Mitchell. Ashurst potentially too. All three seem to be heading in the wrong direction.



Add BLM to that list


Biq diq

Long live Neubergs <3


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