Tuesday 8 November 2016 1:00 am

Brexit opening up a whole new world of work for lawyers

June's vote for Brexit has shaken up the legal industry, including revealing lucrative pockets of work for lawyers, according to a report published today.

The Natwest study highlighted how lawyers are becoming increasingly in demand as the "sheer complexity of the regulatory and legislative changes needed to support the UK's exit from the EU becomes clearer".

However, the report also noted the decision to depart from the EU came at a time when the legal sector was already facing a number of challenges, particularly as new entrants to the market, including the legal offerings from the big professional services firms, increases competition for work

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Although the extra work sparked by Brexit is likely to pay off in the long term, in the short term, the decision will probably put a squeeze on real estate, transactional and capital market projects. Natwest believes redundancies are likely in the immediate future, as firms are forced to rethink decisions made prior to the 23 June vote. 

James Tsolakis, head of legal services at Natwest, described Brexit as a "two-edged sword" for lawyers.

"There will be some firms who are significant beneficiaries of [Brexit], because of all the advisory work that will come from that as we [come to terms with] what we're negotiating for and what the rules are," Tsolakis told City A.M. "Not all of the firms will be beneficiaries."

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Natwest also found the number of lawyers seeking to register as solicitors in other countries has soared, as many in the City draw up contingency plans on where best to move operations should the Brexit deal secured not be favourable for access to the Single Market. 

Tsolakis added: "These firms are client driven so your risk is you lock yourself out of instructions if you don't have the lawyers who have the ability to accept an instruction that involves a European jurisdiction…you're at your peril if you're not hedging that risk."

Brexit minister David Davis hosted a roundtable with a number of key members from the professional services industry, including representatives from the Law Society and the Bar Council, last month, in a bid to establish what the industry needed most from government in the Brexit deal.