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Property lawyers adapt to 25% decrease in caseloads

Property lawyers adapt to 25% decrease in caseloads


A decline in property transactions prompts a 25% drop in caseloads for property lawyers; top firms dominate

The property market's sluggish performance has led property lawyers to handle 25% fewer cases, responding to a 21% year-on-year fall in monthly property transactions

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According to the Conveyancing Market Tracker (CMT) by property data company Search Acumen, the average property law firm managed 62 cases in Q3 2023—a 25% decrease compared to the previous year and a 41% drop from the post-pandemic peak in Q1 2022 when firms handled an average of 94 cases per quarter.

This decline mirrors the fall in monthly transactions, with a recorded 21% year-on-year drop. September 2023 witnessed the lowest property transactions in nearly three years, reminiscent of figures seen during lockdown

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Despite the decrease, the 62 cases per quarter align with pre-pandemic figures, reflecting a return to traditional activity levels seen in 2019.

Search Acumen's analysis reveals that the market slowdown has led to a reduction in the number of active firms, dropping below 3,900 for the first time outside of a pandemic in August 2023, remaining below that level since.

In this challenging market, acquisitions and consolidation are prevalent, resulting in big winners. The top 500 law firms are projected to achieve a 60% market share for 2023, a record high from 51% in 2011, handling three in five transactions. Similarly, the top 100 firms have increased their market share to around 77%, another record high on an annual basis, up from 65% in 2011.

Andy Sommerville, Director at Search Acumen, notes the changing demands of the property market, with larger firms growing through mergers and acquisitions. A recent study indicates that firms are leveraging technology to stay competitive, with 95% finding it enhances responsiveness to client needs.

The adoption of technology, including AI and Robotic Process Automation, is becoming crucial for firms to maintain a competitive advantage, especially during a market crunch. As technology continues to advance, staying relevant to clients remains a critical aspect for property lawyers in the evolving landscape.