UK Business Law Market – IRN Legal Market Briefing
The UK Business Law Market Briefing is the first edition of an annual IRN Legal Market Briefing from IRN Research and provides an overview of the UK business law market. In addition, to looking at the market as a whole, it looks specifically at: Corporate, financial and company law; Employment law; International Litigation and Dispute Resolution; Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks; and Commercial Property.
The business legal services market is a large market and constitutes the largest share of the UK Legal Services sector. Despite its size, this market is experiencing fundamental changes in terms of competition, operations and future development. Brexit is just one of the key issues impacting on the market but it is the factor causing the greatest uncertainty regarding the future path of demand.
Total turnover of business legal services providers reached £24.7 billion in 2015. While turnover grew rapidly in 2015, growth slowed in 2016. The two main segments of the UK business legal market for solicitors and barristers are corporate/ commercial law and dispute resolution/litigation.
There is a growing competitive threat to traditional business legal services providers from client’s own in-house legal teams, with competition from in-house legal departments increasing particularly sharply in the SME segment of the market over the past year.
The market has been and is being reshaped by:
Increased pressure to offer more fixed-price work
Increased pressure to make prices more transparent
The growth in third-party funding
The increasing use of digital technology in the courts and within legal practices
Moves to limit the number of cases going to court
The development ABS practices from companies outside of the legal market especially by accountancy firms.
In the future, business legal practices will have to become nimbler and more flexible, with cost control a greater priority as fees come under pressure. There are also likely to be more mergers and acquisitions between legal firms.