Immigration has been a topic which interests both political debate as well as news coverage, but has the changes to immigration law in the UK meant anything to the immigration lawyers?
The business immigration lawyers dealing in complex and business critical visa issues were still in demand even though there were revision of the points base system and the changes in the rules relating to non EU nationals, says Amy Hambleton a director of RedLaw Recruitment.
The demand for lawyers who could handle investor, entrepreneur and associated employee visas continues as the government’s plans to increase inward investment to the UK was fraught with red tape affecting immigration issues.
As for the legal market per se, business immigration was still the area in which recruiters were seeing most activity, says Nick Smetana, a senior consultant at Taylor Root.
Business immigration was still the busiest area at the moment, with a shortage of top-quality candidates in the market and rival firms often competing for the same people, he says.
Chic immigration practices were still leading the way, but corporate immigration was a growing area for firms that wanted to be able to provide a full service to their key international clients.
Hambleton says that while boutique practices continue to have high demand for specialists, the increased competition from larger firms was giving immigration lawyers a wider employment pool to search for jobs.
Boutiques were also starting to look at different ways to make their immigration expertise transferable to other areas, points out Hambleton.
She says that immigration was an obvious stream that provides a vital service to corporate and individual clients without having to refer work out. The difficulty in establishing a greenfield immigration practice was that a firm would not have fast-track application slots with the Home Office, thus keeping the available options for lawyers [is] more limited than in other specialized streams.
Despite this, an increased number of firms were willing to make a long-term investment in this area to grow an immigration capability.”
With regard to lawyers looking to get into the immigration sphere, there was no need for them to have a direct experience in the field, notes Smetana. With no previous immigration experience too employment law experience at a corporate firm was the next best thing he said.
Further up the ladder, Hambleton added that experience of working with the Home Office was highly sought-after.
For lawyers, a strong training in a reputable immigration practice was key she says. A clear understanding of changes to the immigration rules and ideally a record of liaising with the Home Office while handling visa applications will be highly prized.”