When Courtney Rosenthal, L’13, went to bed on June 23, she was unaware that her world was about to change. Rosenthal, a senior associate attorney at Guggenheim Partners, a global financial services firm in the United Kingdom, didn’t expect that her country would vote to leave the European Union.
“I checked my phone the morning after the vote and was shocked to see that Leave had won,” Rosenthal said. “I think there was a general sense of, ‘What happens now?’ both from a personal standpoint and a business standpoint.”
Brexit has changed and will continue to change Rosenthal’s work in transactional law. In the months leading up to and following the Brexit vote, Rosenthal noticed a reduction in corporate loans as companies waited to see the outcome and implications of the decision. Some companies rushed to close deals before the vote, while others included “Brexit clauses” in those deals to enable them to back out should the U.K. vote to leave.
Rosenthal said uncertainty has waned as corporations have realized the separation from the EU will be a lengthy and complicated process. In all, it could take more than two years. She also said that a recent ruling, which mandated Parliament vote on starting the process of separation, seemed to be a safeguard against a “hard” Brexit, in which the U.K. would need to write new trade agreements with each of the countries in the EU. A “soft” Brexit, on the other hand, would seek to keep the U.K.’s relationship with the EU as close to the current relationship as possible, resulting in less market volatility. Rosenthal hoped for the latter.
But Rosenthal knows that the decision did not occur in a vacuum. Political changes around the world — such as Donald Trump’s presidency — will continue to affect the global economy. For now, Rosenthal is left with more questions than answers. If nothing else, in the midst of such paradigm shifts, she takes solace in the fact that the U.K.’s separation process will take time.
“For now,” Rosenthal said, “it seems to be business as usual.”