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Restrictions on skilled workers could undermine City law firms success, warns Law Society

Restrictions on skilled workers could undermine City law firms success, warns Law Society

The Law Society has called upon the Government not to damage the economic success of City of London international law firms in its efforts to reduce immigration.

The Government is expected to announce shortly its plans to restrict employment-related settlement rights, which give employed migrants the option of applying to stay in the UK when their work visas expire.

The Law Society represents the legal services sector which contributes around &pound25 billion to the UK economy, which equates to just under 2% of UK GDP. The large international law firms contribute a trade balance surplus of &pound3.2bn*. They operate in a global marketplace and rely on the expertise of skilled migrant workers from outside the EEA.

Law Society Chief Executive Desmond Hudson said “Our legal sector holds a pre-eminent position in the global market place. We should be proud of this and the contribution that international law firms make to economic and export growth. Government policy should support their continued success.”

He added: “Law firms turn to the international market for recruitment as part of a global competition for talent. International migrants employed by law firms tend to be high earners, who pay taxes in the UK and spend their disposable income here. Those who go on to hold a skilled job and live here continuously for five years, and whose employers want them to stay on, should not be forced, at that point, to leave.  The government is entitled to pursue its policy of reducing net migration numbers, but the measures it takes to achieve that end should not harm the competitiveness of UK law firms and inhibit their ability, and that of their clients, to develop their businesses internationally.”

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