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Litigators confident that work will remain post-Brexit

Acratopulo: Insufficient diversity at senior levels

Most litigation lawyers (57%) believe there will not be significant loss of work to other jurisdictions in the wake of Brexit, a survey has found.

Only 28% expected there to be a loss, while the rest did not know.

Meanwhile, a large majority (83%) said the legal profession should do more to promote diversity and inclusion.

The London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) and New Law Journal contacted 126 lawyers, 76% of them working in large litigation teams of 21 or more, for their annual litigation trends survey.

Most litigators (58%) said “cost was not a significant factor” in their client’s decision when it came to pursuing litigation in London rather than elsewhere. Only 19% thought it was a significant factor.

“Multiple respondents answered that, irrespective of cost, London remains favourable due to its reputation for the quality of its judiciary, perception of judicial independence and procedural features of our system.”

When it came to ranking those qualities, the quality of judges was the most popular (37%), followed by judicial independence (32%) and procedures (27%).

Two-thirds of lawyers thought a spike in litigation affecting businesses operating across borders was inevitable in the aftermath of Brexit.

They were generally optimistic about the state of the litigation market, with 44% saying the market was growing, compared to 38% describing it as unchanged.

On diversity, litigators said the top three priorities for improvement were encouraging flexible working and job sharing (81%), promoting and supporting social mobility (77%) and improving workplace culture (75%).

Julian Acratopulo, president of the LSLA and partner at Clifford Chance, commented: “This survey starkly underlines the fact that there is not enough diversity across senior positions in the legal profession. It’s clear that, collectively, the profession needs to pick up the pace of change.

“It is not a question of whether good work is being done to help solve the issues – it is, and that much is clear to us all.

“But it is vital we make sure solutions aren’t delivered ‘in silos’ and don’t look at fragmented parts of the problem. We need to take a holistic approach, rather than a piecemeal one.

“I firmly believe that technology is absolutely key to this. Diversity and technology go hand in hand, and need to be viewed as such.

“Better digitisation opens up more opportunities for lawyers to work flexibly or remotely (as cases can be conducted online rather than in person). This helps to break down the barriers that can dissuade people from joining/progressing in the profession.”