As much as the Americans would like to think that they’re independent from the rest of the world (and the UK, specifically), the fact of the matter is that we live in an extremely globalised world. Important events in countries an ocean away can have a large impact on life at home, especially when the country in question is the United States and the important event is their 2020 presidential election.
Although the policies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden are very different, there will be major repercussions for the UK no matter who wins and businesses will need to be prepared for both outcomes. Their stances on the UK and the EU will ultimately have economic impacts that will in turn affect the legal industry.
If Donald Trump Wins…
The UK may experience an economic realignment that brings it closer to the United States and pulls it away from the rest of Europe. Trump has consistently been pro-Brexit and anti-EU, meaning that his re-election could put pressure on the UK to adopt a cleaner break from the EU rather than have a slower process of regulatory decouplement. If this were to occur, UK businesses will have less time to adjust and their legal departments will have to scramble to take into account laws that have changed or are no longer in effect. This uptick in legal work could lead to a slight boon to the UK legal industry and result in increases in hiring and compensation.
If Joe Biden Wins…
The UK might find itself in a particularly awkward situation (as if these past few years haven’t been awkward enough). One of Biden’s most prominent policy positions that distinguish him from Trump is that he plans on focusing on the US’s allies and strengthening relationships. However, some worry that a Biden administration will prioritise the EU rather than the UK, further deteriorating the so-called “special relationship.” As Brexit will mean the UK will no longer serve as a diplomatic and economic link between the United States and the European Union, the UK could very well be left to forge its own fate.
How would all of this affect the UK legal industry? Well, a Biden presidency could lead to increased economic stability. Since markets are adversely affected by political uncertainty, having consistent US policy, as well as a decrease in reliance on both the US and the EU, could increase economic confidence. Mitigating political uncertainty could then lead to more mergers and acquisitions, as suggested by the Guardian in January 2020. Of course, this would mean more work (and demand) for UK lawyers that specialise in M&A.
The 2020 United States presidential election will affect the UK’s legal industry no matter who wins – it will be up to businesses and law firms to proactively prepare for both possibilities in order to take advantage of the ever-changing economic landscape.