UK Legal Services Market Report 2016, 6th edition:

22 Mar 2016




PRESS RELEASE:  21st March 2016

UK Legal Services Market Report 2016, 6th edition:

The UK Legal Services Market Report 2016 from IRN Research, now in its sixth year, provides a market review of the UK legal services market.

 Key headlines:

  • Relatively strong annual revenue growth but mixed fortunes across the market and more competition to come
  • No mass exodus of law firms from the sector but a gradual decrease in numbers
  • Sectors like personal injury and conveyancing are starting to polarise
  • Healthy market growth to continue in 2016 and 2017 but traditional law firms to face growing competitive pressures and price pressures
  • Move to “flexible law” will gather pace, i.e. more DIY law, more unbundling of legal services, increased use of online dispute resolution (ODR), more use of freelance and temporary legal professionals by corporate clients.

The UK legal services market (including private practice firms, barristers, patent agents, and other legal services providers) was valued at an estimated £32.1bn in 2015 and annual growth was almost 7%.

It is now almost five years since the introduction of the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA) in October 2011, which enabled non-lawyers to invest in law firms and other legal services providers for the first time.  The introduction of the LSA has had a gradual rather than a “big bang” impact on the sector.  Increased competition in the legal services market has impacted on the number of private practice law firms in England and Wales but the expected dramatic decrease in law firm numbers post LSA has not really materialised.  From 2012 to the end of 2015, the number of law firms in England and Wales has fallen by just over 600 but there are still over 10,000 law firms operating in England and Wales and almost 12,000 in the UK.  By contrast, around 1,000 claims management companies have gone from the sector.

By far the largest segment in the UK market is legal work for business and commercial affairs accounting for an estimated 33% of all UK legal market revenue in 2015. The second largest segment is legal work associated with commercial property and this market segment has seen a significant improvement in fortunes in the last year. The largest private client sector is personal injury/accident/medical negligence work which has struggled to maintain revenue growth.

Some segments are continuing to polarise, led by conveyancing and personal injury: larger firms are using M&A to grow their market share while smaller law firms and more firms are starting to make increasing use of main media advertising and Internet marketing techniques to boost brand awareness and use.

In both 2016 and 2017, annual revenue growth in the UK legal services market is likely to be around 5.5% to 6%. in 2017. Competitive pressures will continue and the move to “flexible law” will gather pace in the next year or so, i.e. more DIY law by individuals, more unbundling of legal services, increased use of online dispute resolution (ODR) and more use of freelance and temporary legal professionals by corporate clients.

The full report, The UK Legal Services Market 2016 (59pp, PDF), is available directly from IRN Research, priced at £400/€512/US$575. UK sterling price is plus VAT so total price is £480.

The report has sections for: industry overview; legal services timeline; market sizes and trends; market segments; key issues in the market; key players; primary research on marketing mix for law firms and use of social media by law firms; market forecasts for 2016 to 2017. See Contents Pages below.

IRN Research

Established in 1991 in the UK, IRN Research is a full-service market research consultancy. IRN Research has a particular focus on the legal services market offering a range of bespoke research services, on an ad-hoc and continuous basis, to law firms and suppliers to the sector. These services include client satisfaction surveys, market studies and competitor intelligence, and strategic studies.

For further information on the report or our research services contact David Mort on +44(0)7905 239599 or URL:

IRN Research (trading name of IRN Consultants Ltd), 60 Eastern Green Rd, Coventry CV5 7LH United Kingdom




  1. Executive Summary
  2. Report Coverage and Introduction
  3. UK Legal Market Timeline
  4. Market Size, Sectors, and Trends
    4.1 Market Size
    4.2 Market Segmentation
    4.2.1 Market Segments
    4.2.2 Business/Commercial Affairs
    4.2.3 Personal Injury/Accidents/Clinical Negligence
    4.2.4 Commercial Property
    4.2.5 Residential Conveyancing
    4.2.6 Employment Law
    4.2.7 Family Law
    4.2.8 Wills & Probate
  5. Industry Structure
    5.1 Law Firms
    5.2 Solicitor and Barrister Numbers
  6. Key Trends
    6.1 ABS – Almost 700 by the End of 2015
    6.2 More Competition from Accountants
    6.3 Legal Services Market Investigation
    6.4 Claims Management Sector Shrinking and Investigated
    6.5 Fixed Fees for Low Value Clinical Negligence Claims
    6.6 MoJ U-Turn on Crime Legal Aid Reform
    6.7 Court Closures and the Rise of Digital
    6.8 Government Sets Sights on Increasing Competition
    6.9 Complaints to Legal Ombudsman Declining
  7. Competitive Structure
    7.1 The Marketplace
    7.2 Traditional Law
    7.3 Leading Law Firms
    7.4 Acquisitions and Mergers
    7.5 Top 5 UK Law Firms – Profiles
    7.6 Selected Other Legal Services Providers – Profiles
  8. Law Firm Research
    8.1 Marketing Mix Moving Towards Digital
    8.2 Net Increase in Marketing Spend in Next 12 Months
    8.3 Majority of Law Firms Use Twitter
    8.4 Monitoring Client Comments on Social Media
    9. Selected Bodies and Associations
  9. Future Trends
    10.1 The Economy – Still Growing but Some Uncertainties
    10.2 Legal Sector – Growing but Competition/Consolidation
    10.3 Market Forecasts – 2016 and 2017



IRN Team