The Law Society has today launched an open-armed appeal to keep foreign lawyers coming into the country post-Brexit, unveiling new courses to help solicitors qualify in England and Wales.
The representative body of solicitors has partnered with Barbri, an international legal training provider, to offer preparation classes for foreign lawyers planning to practise in the country.
Industry sources have told City A.M. that, anecdotally, they have heard lawyers who hold a qualification to practise in another country mooting the possibility of moving in the run-up to Brexit.
The Law Society appears to be trying to mitigate this, saying that the new courses were prompted by “the importance of upholding England and Wales' reputation as the leading jurisdiction for businesses in the post-Brexit era”.
The body has been concerned that the move from the current Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme to a new Solicitors Qualifying Examination by 2020, proposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), could affect the UK's reputation as a “global centre of legal excellence”.
“The SRA's deregulation agenda is a clear indicator it is distancing itself from the role of guardian of standards. The Law Society is stepping forward to fill this gap,” said the body's president Joe Egan.
Before the new qualification is brought in, the Law Society says it will use its new educational role to “promote the laws of England and Wales” internationally through training for the old qualification.
It said it will then be well-placed to “reshape the professional legal education market” for when the new exam is introduced.
UPDATE: On 22 December 2017, just over two months after announcing this partnership, The Law Society said it and Barbri had "mutually agreed" to end their work together.