Australia to open door to UK junior lawyers in post-Brexit trade agreement

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By Aishah Hussain on

Law Society cautions ‘practical barriers’ around qualifications

Sydney, Australia

Junior lawyers in the UK may soon be able to practise in Australia without having to requalify following the news this week of a post-Brexit trade agreement with Australia. The development was welcomed by The Law Society yesterday who also cautioned there are “practical barriers” around the recognition of qualifications.

The government has said the UK-Australia free-trade agreement (FTA) will ensure the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, enabling lawyers to practise down under without the need to requalify or for additional study.

However, The Law Society said there are still “practical barriers” that prevent the full benefit of trade in legal services between the two countries.

These difficulties increase costs for clients, limit international opportunities for local lawyers, and reduce the skills transfer and contribution to the local market, particularly for those without the support of larger organisations, the Society said. Many of these barriers are ‘behind the border’ and are not covered by these agreements.

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Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We hope that the deal’s ambitious commitments on market access for services professionals will provide a strong step towards addressing these issues and look forward to seeing this reflected in the final deal.”

She continued:

“We look forward to deepening our discussions on market access and a simpler requalification system with our key counterparts, including the Law Council of Australia, and would welcome a clear framework for regulatory dialogue under the FTA with Australia to further this cooperation.”

Some City of London law firms already have a significant presence in Australia. Allens (partnered with Linklaters), Ashurst and Herbert Smith Freehills are among Australia’s ‘Big Six’ law firms. Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Norton Rose Fulbright also maintain a profile in the country.

The news may help junior lawyers at these firms seek pastures anew as historically, English and Welsh solicitors have had to satisfy rigid requirements to dual-qualify in Australia.

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