Brexit and the (Northern) Law School


A one-day workshop, Liverpool, 14 June 2017

Co-Organisers: Michael Dougan, University of Liverpool; Tamara Hervey, University of Sheffield; Charlotte O’Brien, University of York

UoL Liverpool Law School logo - colour  University of Sheffield - colour logo SLS logo

Sponsored by: Society of Legal Scholars; EU Law @ Liverpool; Sheffield Centre for International and European Law

Location: University of Liverpool, Foresight Centre, The Gallery

The north of England has a distinctive place in UK legal education. Law is a profession that is concentrated in national capitals (London; Cardiff; Edinburgh; Belfast). Northern English law schools include among their central purposes the service of local communities. This has an education component, but also a research component, for instance collaborating with local private, public or third sector organisations. At the same time, and without losing that civic sense, northern English universities are being challenged to address deficits in international outlook, understanding and ambition, which are said to hold back the north of England from reaching its full potential. The place of law schools in this ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda is particularly challenged by Brexit: at the very time that one of the major international components of a law degree is being removed, a global outlook among future (legal) professionals must be secured, alongside developing young people into culturally agile adults (and rounded human beings), aware of diversity and its implications and promises.

Over some 44 years of EU membership, the UK has grown to host the largest research base in EU law in the world. Many of the stars and rising stars of that research base work in the north of England. The future sustainability of the UK’s leadership in that field, including PGR programmes, must be fundamentally in question. In terms of teaching and learning, UG and PG programmes which rely on Erasmus or other students from the rest of the EU must also be in jeopardy. Further, EU law was not a compulsory part of law degrees before the UK joined; after the UK leaves the EU, there is no obvious reason to retain it. This is especially so in the context of reconfiguring the contents of a law degree, and its relation to legal professional competence, as part of the Legal Education and Training Review, and its follow up programmes, particularly the SRA’s Training for Tomorrow and the Bar Standards Board’s Future Bar Training programme.

Entwined with all of this is the human dimension. Our law schools are full of colleagues from the rest of the EU. People have chosen to make their careers, their lives, in the UK. Our professional and personal circumstances are vastly enriched by the daily interactions that come from working with a diverse group of people. Non-UK nationals (and other visible minorities) may now be on the receiving end of ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment, particularly in the north of England, with its strong ‘Leave’ vote.

In addition to general questions of Brexit for all UK law schools, we will focus specifically on the regional ones: how will Brexit affect legal education for the north of England.

The programme is designed both to hear from and respond to speakers with expertise on five key over-lapping and interlinking topics, and to allow plenty of time and space for informal interactions in self-selecting breakout groups, so that colleagues can discuss their concerns, hopes, fears, ambitions and plans with others in similar situations.

Free to attend, please register your attendance.