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Law Society rails against coalition immigration cap

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The Law Society has added its weight to the campaign against the introduction of an annual immigration cap.

It claims the cap will 'strangle' City law firms by restricting their ability to conduct overseas work; preventing them from attracting overseas lawyers and moving employees to London from their international offices; and damage the UK legal sector's reputation.

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: 'Just when we are pulling ourselves out of a crippling recession, imposing this immigration cap now will strangle City law firms and, in turn, hit the businesses they act for.

'City law firms operate in a global market and need to be able to recruit and relocate staff around the world. Having access to quality talent from other jurisdictions ensures the legal sector is better placed to carry out its work in the international marketplace. By imposing a cap, there is a mistaken assumption that there will be lawyers of equal expertise in the UK and EU, but it is often the knowledge of a particular overseas jurisdiction which is of particular value to a firm.

'The UK legal sector is a huge employer of domestic legal talent, and restrictions on future international business development will mean fewer opportunities for UK lawyers to gain employment and international experience. The cap will effectively sever links to some of the world's most important and growing economies, such as India and China, and there is a risk that large amounts of the transactional work that UK law firms engage in will go overseas as a result. It is therefore not surprising that the business community in the City also shares our concerns.

'Migrants brought in to work in the legal sector are highly qualified, well-paid individuals who make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Further, any perception that the English legal market is becoming more closed to overseas lawyers and law firms is likely to result in further restrictions on the ability of UK lawyers to do business abroad.

'The points-based system was introduced to control levels of immigration and has been working well. It has helped maintain the UK legal sector's standing and presence throughout the world. Imposing a cap will bring that trend to a halt.'

The Society joins the City of London Immigration Working Group, the Greater London Authority, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and London First as vocal opponents of the immigration cap.

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