Legal Services for SMEs Report – increasing demand from SMEs for legal advice

14 Jul 2021

SMEs have a wide and varied range of legal needs and almost half have regular needs, i.e. a legal issue at least once a month.  

These legal needs are addressed in numerous ways: law firms and solicitors are the main source of legal advice but they are only used by a third of SMEs in this survey reflecting the competitive nature of this particular legal advice sector.

Legal Services for UK SMEs Consumer Research Report 2021, is a new report from IRN Research based on responses from 383 owners and senior executives.

There are clear opportunities in this sector for legal advice providers as almost half of all SMEs are expecting to increase their demand for legal advice in the next 18 months and, in particular, will be looking for more legal advice related to redundancies, new ways of working, employment contract changes, and financial issues following the pandemic. Over half of SMEs surveyed are expecting to make some staff redundant once furlough ends.

There are also opportunities for more flexible pricing models: hourly fees still account for the most used payment method but more SMEs would prefer other options like fixed fees or retainer/subscription based models. Flexible approaches to the client-advisor relationship are  shown by the fact that over a quarter of SMEs have already embedded external legal advisors into their business at some point to fill staff gaps or to work on specific projects for example.         

Other headlines from the survey include:

  • 65% of respondents had consultations with their legal advisor during the pandemic and half of these used video for these consultations. Over 8 out of 10 were comfortable with the video consultation and would be happy to continue to use this approach.
  • Price information on a law firm website would be a factor in persuading an SME to use that firm over another that did not publish prices: 80% of participants agree with this.
  • Around three-quarters would be interested in other professional services offered by law firms. A similar percentage would consider legal services from accountants.

Legal Services for UK SMEs Consumer Research Report 2021 is available from IRN Research for £1,200 (including detailed datasets).  

A detailed Contents Page and list of figures/tables in the report is at:

To order the report contact:


IRN Team