UK legal services market revenue bounced back strongly in 2021
19 Apr 2022
- After a difficult time in 2020, the UK legal services market (including private practice firms, barristers, patent agents, and other legal services providers) bounced back in 2021 with market value growth at current prices of 12.4%.
- For the first time in 2021, the number of law firms in England and Wales dropped below 10,000: at the end of the year there were 9,809 firms. In England and Wales, the incorporated company model now accounts for a majority of law firms (52%). Only 13% of firms still operate via a traditional partnership model.
- Legal advice for business and commercial matters (including commercial property) is the largest specific market segment and it increased its share of the total UK legal services market to over 47% in 2021. The consumer law market value was estimated at almost £22bn and the largest segment is personal injury/accident/medical negligence work valued at over £4bn. Family law and employment law are the next largest segments.
- The various consumer law sectors had mixed fortunes in 2021. Conveyancing, employment law (both for employees and employers) and probate legal advice performed reasonably well while family law was not far behind. Divorce numbers have been falling year-on-year for the last few years but demand in other areas of family law is still healthy. The personal injury sector is still struggling with claims numbers falling again in 2021 after a large decrease in 2020 although the clinical negligence sector had a better year. The criminal law sector witnessed a large decline in cases in 2021 and is facing a serious backlog in the courts.
- Revenue growth is forecast to increase by between 7% and 8% in 2022.
The UK Legal Services Market Report 2022 is available directly from IRN Research, priced at £400.