Law Society launches migrant lawyers’ scheme

It will authorise eligible firms to issue certificates of sponsorship to prospective short-term migrants

15 May 2009: The Law Society is holding the scales in favour of the migrant lawyers. It is stepping in to help law firms run internship programmes threatened by new immigration rules; and is launching a scheme for migrant lawyers under Tier 5 (T5) of the points-based system. 
The Society plans to authorise eligible firms to issue certificates of sponsorship to prospective short-term migrants.  The firm will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the migrants, including all reporting and record-keeping obligations required by the PBS. 
For the legal sector, sharing knowledge, experience and best practice with lawyers from around the world through work experience, secondment and internship programmes, is essential to business development.  In the current economic climate, the ability to remain competitive in the global market for legal services has never been more important. 
A successful pilot of the scheme has been conducted with Clifford Chance LLP and Dechert LLP.  Stuart Popham, worldwide senior partner of Clifford Chance, said: "We welcome the new Law Society scheme. We believe it will play a vital role in enabling international law firms to continue to recruit the best talent in the global market."
As many as 40 leading national and international law firms have already indicated their interest in joining the scheme. 
Des Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society, said "The success of England’s world-leading law firms depends on the relationships they build with lawyers from many jurisdictions. This scheme supports international networking which is essential to the competitiveness of these global businesses."  

The Law firms seeking to participate in the scheme must operate an exchange programme that meets the requirements of the Law Society’s Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange scheme; hold a current UK Border Agency sponsor licence with an A-rating; and enter into a contract with the Law Society, undertaking to fulfil the sponsor obligations defined within the PBS. 

Firms not headquartered in the UK will also be required to become corporate members of the Law Society International Division for joining the scheme.  Firms wanting to register their interest in joining the scheme can email at [email protected]

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