"Vote Leave to enrich the lawyers!" (says this lawyer)
Lawyers thrive on uncertainty. If we vote Leave then lawyers will be better off. Our clients may not be, but we will. Clients will need advice because they will have to navigate through the new legal terrain. Here is my list of the top most sought after jobs on 24th June 2016 if we vote Leave.
First, Business Immigration lawyers. The Australian-style points system will introduce new visa requirements on 100,000s of EU work seekers workers, per year. No barriers to entry apply at present. "Controlling our borders" will mean something akin to imposing Tier 2 visa requirements on all skilled workers looking for jobs in the UK. Unskilled workers need not apply. Hugely costly for employers. Great for business immigration lawyers and for HR departments.
Second, Employment lawyers. The "bonfire of Brussels red tape" almost certainly means that a number of EU-based employment laws will go. The Working Time Regulations will likely go. This means no statutory right to paid holiday. The Agency Workers Regulations will go. Some parts of TUPE will go. Contracts of employment and Handbooks will have to be re-written and re-issued. And then there is all the restructuring and redundancy advice required in the event of the inevitable recession. Think of all those lovely Settlement Agreements.
Third, Competition lawyers. Brexit is likely to end the current one-stop-shop for large-scale mergers falling under the EU Merger Regulation. This will likely increase the number of mergers handled by the UK's Competition & Markets Authority (CMA). There will still be regulation and scrutiny but it will be our regulation and scrutiny by our lawyers. New strategic advice will be sought for large deals in the UK which might interest the CMA. Large companies active in the UK and the EU will have to seek advice from the competing competition (sorry) aspects of two rival pieces of jurisprudence.
Fourth, Commercial lawyers. Any business selling goods and services to the EU will have to review their terms and conditions with their clients to see whether they provide that business with the necessary protection post 24th June. What about the "jurisdiction" clause? What about some of the key commercial terms if they were costed on pre-Brexit assumptions (right to free movement etc)? This is particularly the case in certain sectors reliant on EU unskilled labour e.g. the construction and hospitality sectors.
Sector-specific lawyers. Energy lawyers will be in demand because much of the UK's energy law is based on EU directives. The EU Trading Emissions Trading Scheme may be up for review. What about logistics firms and the costs imposed by complying with EU energy targets? Would the "passporting regime" for the provision of financial services, continue to apply cross-border? This is likely to be one of the more important legal-battle grounds if we Leave.
Brexit may well produce a nasty recession. There may well be years of legal and constitutional uncertainty. But rest easy, the lawyers will be OK.