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UK legal services turnover ‘to rise by 4.2 per cent from 2015’

Growth held back by housing market weakness, Law Society report finds  

7 February 2013

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Turnover in the UK legal services market, currently around £26.8bn, will rise by 4.2 per cent from 2015 onwards, according to research by the Law Society of England and Wales.

“Over the longer term the economy is expected to return to more steady growth, although it is unlikely to show the high rates of growth seen before the current recession,” the researchers said.

“Real turnover in the UK legal services market is, therefore, expected (or assumed) to increase by 4.2 per cent per year on average over the period 2016-2020 and by 4.4 per cent per year over the period 2021-2025.”

The report found that turnover in the UK legal services market increased by 1.8 per cent in 2010 and an estimated three per cent in 2011.

“This growth has been due to the temporary recovery in the UK economy and the housing market and an increase in net exports of legal services. However, real turnover is expected to have shown no growth, or a decrease, in 2012 as the economy went back into recession.

“Growth in real turnover of the sector is expected to pick up slowly over 2013-2015 as the economy edges out of recession but is likely to be held back by continuing weakness in the housing market, which is not expected to show any significant growth until 2016-2017.”

Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, said the research showed that firms in England and Wales were winning an increasing share of the growing legal market.

“With regulatory changes permitting increased external investment, some firms are well placed to win an even larger share of this growth,” Hudson said.

“However the study also reveals a tale of two cities. In contrast to the granite and glass offices of the large law firms competing for business from around the world, traditional high street solicitors firms face a less rosy picture.

“Numbers of these firms have proved remarkably resilient over the last few years, even when their traditional sources of income – conveyancing residential property and legal aid – have halved.

“The best local firms are fighting to win an increasing share of a smaller market, but not all can succeed in this way.”

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