The UK Business Legal Services Market Report is the second edition of an annual Legal Market Report from the author and provides an overview of the market and its core market segments.
New content this year includes:
- A survey of 180 UK businesses (90 large/90 SME) on use of, and perceptions of, legal advisers.
- Analysis of the top 200 law firms, and leading chambers, and the specific verticals they advise.
Market size and segments
UK-based business law firms and chambers generated revenues of 15.4 billion in 2017, an increase of 4% on 2016 revenues. Some of this total includes international revenue but the UK legal business market was worth over 11 billion (turnover, less exports plus imports).
The two main segments of the business legal market are corporate/ commercial law and dispute resolution/litigation. Other important market segments are employment law, commercial property, mergers & acquisitions, and patents and trademarks.
There is likely to be a net increase in demand for business legal services in the next 18 months. A majority of businesses surveyed expect their demands for legal services to remain the same in the next 18 months. 29% of large businesses and 16% of small businesses are expecting an increase in their need for external legal advice, compared to 9% of large firms and 11% of small firms expecting a decrease.
Six out of ten small businesses use just one law firm for all their legal needs but a majority of large businesses are using more than one law firm.
Some businesses build a relationship with their legal adviser outside of a specific legal matter: 27% of individuals in small businesses come into contact with their legal adviser at business networking events, and 31% of individuals in large businesses attend events arranged by a law firm.
Sector expertise of top 200 UK law firms
Most of the top 200 UK law firms have created vertical sector teams to emphasise their expertise in specific sectors and to get closer to their clients in these sectors. The author has looked at the websites of 182 of the top firms (i.e. those that list their sector expertise) to detail the key verticals covered. There are 13 vertical sectors listed by more than 50 law firms, led by real estate (101 firms), financial services & insurance (97 firms), and hospitality, leisure and sport (91 firms). Another 10 sectors reach double figures, i.e. mentioned by more than 10 firms.
Some vertical sectors are already starting to become crowded in terms of the number of law firms offering advice for the sector. The next step, starting to emerge, is a move to more niche sector expertise.
The forecast for the market value of the business legal market shows steady growth in 2018 with higher growth expected in 2019.
- Law firms will have to become more flexible and market-savvy as competition increases. Major clients seek to unbundle more legal services by buying-in only certain legal services, and ALSPs take on more routine legal work and offer support services to corporates.
- Controlling costs will remain a top priority.
- There will be more mergers as firms seek to cut their back office, property and support costs and as UK firms become more attractive financial targets given the decline in the value of the pound. More UK mergers will create integrated professional services firms offering a range of support services particularly for SMEs.
- The development of vertical sector teams in law firms and the growth of niche/boutique law firms specializing in specific sectors or practice areas are likely to continue. Broad sector expertise may not be enough for some clients and more law firms are likely to focus on niche market segments.
For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/x5grgh/uk_business_legal?w=4