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Immigration and the legal war for talent

Posted by: Laurence Simons 22/04/15

With the UK general election looming and campaigns in full swing, all eyes have turned towards Westminster, scrutinising people, policies and propaganda. It’s hard to deny that one of the hottest and most widely-discussed topics seems to be immigration and the implications of potential new reforms.

Whether you are an avid follower of inter-party debate, or have based your thoughts on media reports or any other source of knowledge, this is one subject where people tend to have very strong personal opinions. But what would the implications for law firms and in-house departments be if immigration policy in the UK were to change?

A general theme within all parties’ manifestos appears to be increasing control over, and ultimately cutting down on immigration. Whether you support the parties who declare that removing incentives to live in the UK is more effective than introducing a cap on numbers, or if you think that the country should endeavour to attract more highly-skilled workers, it is likely that it has crossed your mind that the legal sector could be affected by new reforms.

Certain questions are arising, such as whether young law graduates entering the country will be penalised depending on their limited experience or “skillset”, or how far the shockwaves of a closure of the single market following a very possible “Brexit” would reach.

Some voices, including Movement Against Xenophobia, a drive established to challenge anti-immigrant mindsets, are speaking up about the benefits of immigration to the legal market. MAX has photographed a series of real British workers in their latest “I am an immigrant” campaign confronting the more negative opinions some hold on this topic.

One poster features a Sri Lankan lawyer who practices in the UK and professes that, “For 13 years I have been championing human rights and fighting for justice”. Highlighting the importance of the positive impact immigration has had on the country and the professions, the campaign champions the diversity of culture and opinion which is brought to organisations as a result. Let’s hope these voices are not lost in the noise of the election.