As the reality of Britain’s exit from the European Union set in Friday, London’s top lawyers worked to reassure anxious clients that everything was going to be fine, even if they couldn’t offer firm predictions about what happens next.
Bloomberg News reports that more than 1,000 people signed up for a client conference call with Allen & Overy Friday afternoon. Demand was so great that the firm, which advised on about $1tril worth of deals globally last year, considered adding extra phone lines.
“The overriding message is ‘don’t panic,’” banking partner David Campbell told participants. “The ‘Leave’ vote will have no immediate effect on the vast majority of existing deals, and life continues today much as it did yesterday.” How and when the U.K. leaves the EU depends on fragile political alliances, personalities and market reaction, the firm told its clients. Those things are far more difficult to divine than legal contracts.
The resolution of Brexit may have as much impact on the future of the capital’s law firms as it does their clients. The U.K. legal market contributes about $27.4bn a year to the country’s economy with London seen as the leading global professional services hub. Almost every top U.S. law firm has had a presence within the City of London for decades.
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