Lawyers slam EU skills ruling
From The Sunday Times
June 28, 2009
A GROUP of the Citys largest law firms are up in arms over government changes to employment law that prevents them hiring talent from outside the European Union.
Under the new regulations, which came into force in March, only foreign workers with a masters qualification are eligible for a highly-skilled migrant visa. It is uncommon for lawyers to possess a masters a law degree and a professional diploma are the standard requirements for entry into the profession.
The Citys top firms, including Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields, Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May, Lovells, CMS Cameron McKenna and Stephenson Harwood, have made their views clear in a letter to the Law Society. This will be submitted to the Migration Advisory Committee as part of an ongoing consultation.
The law firms warn that the rules are inhibiting talent flow into the UK and will ultimately make the Citys legal sector less competitive. It could also result in certain areas of expertise moving to other jurisdictions.
David Wootton at Allen & Overy said: Most M&A, IPO or debt-issue activity takes place in more than one jurisdiction at a time. A key component of our model and of our competitiveness in London is the ability to have these integrated teams in one place.
Theres a risk we wont be able to have these teams because we cant get a foreign lawyer into the country. Firms might choose to build these teams elsewhere.
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