What Does Brexit Mean For Law Students?

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With the UK on the verge of withdrawing from Europe, the countdown is on to reach a satisfactory deal before the end of the two-year deadline. For law students and those in the legal profession, this is certainly an exciting time to be alive. With much of UK law tied up in EU law, there’s a chance that law students could see some huge changes to the syllabus over the coming years. Here’s how your law degree might change…

At the moment, there are several compulsory modules that are required in order to practice law in the UK. All students must study constitutional law, tort law, contract law and EU law. Here’s how Brexit might shake up these subjects:

Tort Law: Since this branch of law is mainly derived from the English common law system, it’s unlikely that students will see any major changes to this in their legal studies. However, once the UK is free from EU rule, we might see big changes to areas of tort law as the UK parliament will no longer be bound to EU directives when repealing or amending laws. This could lead to sweeping changes to the law that students will need to stay on top of.

Constitutional Law: Rather than changing the content of your lectures, Brexit is more likely to have an impact on the way the debate is framed. Landmark constitutional law cases like Factortame, Thoburn and Jackson look at ways parliament may have given up sovereignty by abiding by the European Community Act 1972. Brexit probably won’t end this debate, but it might change the way in which it is discussed. In short, the changes are likely to keep law students on their toes!

EU Law: This is the biggest and most obvious change, as leaving the EU will obviously change the way UK law students study EU law. Some law students have even jokes that leaving the EU will be beneficial as it means that they won’t have to study EU law anymore, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Some students may even find that their careers are shaped by Brexit as companies will still need lawyers to be able to negotiate trade deals with EU partners. There will also be a backlog of EU citizens applying for EEA PR which is likely to go on for years, so expect to see a fair amount of this. So, if EU law is your least favourite part of the syllabus, we’re sorry to say it’s likely here to stay!

Rebecca Harper is a freelance writer living in Southampton, United Kingdom. You can reach her on twitter at @BeccHarps