Meet the Law Society's international team

Nathaniel Hayward, international policy assistant at the Law Society, details our international successes over the last year and focus areas for 2022.

The international team works to represent the interests of Law Society members around the world. We do this by:

  • supporting liberalisation of the global legal profession
  • defending human rights and the rule of law
  • lobbying foreign governments on behalf of members to secure great market access and protect your rights

The team of 12 is split along regional lines, with policy advisers responsible for a specific geographic region and policy assistants assigned to support their work.

The team is led by Mickaël Laurans, head of international; Donna Evans, international policy manager; and Lizzette Robleto de Howarth, international programmes manager.

Europe and the EU

Despite Brexit resulting in a significant loss of market access for solicitors and firms in Europe, we've worked tirelessly to guarantee right of access for members in the EU.

We've had two major wins this year.

Firstly, by engaging proactively with the Law Society of Ireland and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we secured the right of members to requalify and practise in Ireland without sitting any examinations.

Another big achievement was the granting of foreign legal consultant status by the Conseil National des Barreaux (CNB), the French national bar.

By working directly with the CNB, we successfully advocated for members' needs in France and protected your ability to advise clients on English and public international law.

New markets

We've also worked with the UK government to secure members' access to new and emerging international markets.

In Malaysia, we were invited to join the Legal Services Joint Committee and the Malaysia Joint Trade Committee working group. This enabled us to positively influence trade and investment discussions to secure expanded practice rights for members in the Malaysian legal market.

We also engaged with the Bar Council of India and other regional stakeholders to highlight the benefits of market liberalisation as the UK looks to sign a full free trade agreement (FTA) with the Indian government.

We're seeking to build consensus on the importance of legal services, and stakeholders such as the Bar Council of India, to the wider economy.

Elsewhere, we've been engaging with the government and regional partners to make sure that legal services are at the top of the list when it comes to priorities in FTA negotiations.

This has contributed to the favourable outcomes for legal services in the Australian and Japanese trade negotiations, increasing opportunities for digital trade across the economy, while ensuring world-leading standards for personal data protection and legitimate public policy objectives.

Promoting England and Wales

We've worked to keep England and Wales the jurisdiction of choice in important markets and a global legal centre of excellence that contributes to the attractiveness of doing business in the UK.

In collaboration with partners in Legal UK and the Bar Council, as well as the Ministry of Justice’s GREAT Legal Services team, we carried out research to underpin promotional activities on behalf of members.

We've also updated our doing legal business guides, which give expert insight into legal markets around the world.

This included the launch of our first ever comprehensive guide for doing business in Indonesia as we work to allow members greater access to emerging markets.

We've translated our jurisdiction of choice guide into a number of foreign languages such as Arabic and Mandarin to increase usability for non-English speakers and encourage more overseas legal practitioners to England and Wales as the place to do legal business.

Two big successes were the release of our research project with Bates Wells, practical toolkit for women in law, during International Women’s Day 2021, and our joint 24-hour global webathon to highlight the risks to the rule of law. 

Another success this year involved lobbying for the reinstatement and release of lawyers who had been disbarred and jailed in Azerbaijan and Belarus respectively.

We worked hard to secure their release and advocated publicly for their ability to exercise their profession freely.

Focus areas for the year ahead

Looking ahead, we'll be focusing on three areas in the coming year:

Trade policy

We'll be working to influence the UK government on its trade policy agenda so that it focuses on the markets that matter to members.

Since the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the UK government has been developing a comprehensive trade policy and signing FTAs with new and existing partners around the world.

We believe that the best way to serve members in the trade and regulatory space is to influence government trade policy at its genesis to make sure that it properly reflects the needs of members.

This policy has already proven effective in the both the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, as well as agreements with Japan, Australia and the European Economic Area/European Free Trade Association states.

We'll continue to advocate for members' priorities in future trade negotiations.

EU market access

A second focus will be our ongoing work to support members through the process of exiting the EU and maintaining access to important markets.

Many members either work in the EU or plan to do so and it's therefore vital that we work to guarantee that solicitors from England and Wales retain as many of the same rights and opportunities as possible.

Our engagement with regional partners and governing bodies across the EU has resulted in the retention of practising rights for our members in many EU states including Ireland, France and Luxembourg.

We'll work to secure access for members to a growing list of EU states by communicating their needs to policy makers.

Human rights

Human rights are under threat around the world and lawyers are often at the forefront of the conflict and authoritarian aggression.

Our third major focus will be our continuing mission to raise awareness of the serious challenges facing lawyers under oppressive regimes, as well as carrying out evidence-led advocacy of true gender equality in the legal sector worldwide.

We'll continue our multilateral approach to engaging on these issues alongside organisations such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and will advocate unceasingly for lawyers’ rights to carry out their duties at the service of society without violence or intimidation.

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