A new report by LexisNexis looking at the effect of COVID-19 on demand for legal services across the profession has found that many disciplines that form part of local government practice are set to grow strongly or stabilise once the pandemic is over.
The LexisNexis Gross Legal Product (GLP) report found that demand for employment lawyers is set to rocket due to the economic fallout caused by the pandemic while risk and compliance work, driven by information law and data security, is also expected to continue its growth trajectory of recent years as is the demand for commercial law advice as many businesses restructure following the outbreak.
Family law (both private and public) is likely to remain stable in the foreseeable future, but the report expects both residential and commercial property law to remain in the doldrums for some time, driven down by economic uncertainty and a move towards remote-working and online shopping.
The research also suggested that dispute resolution has been severely hit due to the closure of the court system, although some recovery is expected due to a backlog of cases in the system.
Researchers used 300 sources of data (such as house sales) to estimate the knock-on demand for legal services across key practice areas. It measures the growth in these disciplines in the two years before the lockdown, in the three months since and looks to forecast the post-Covid rate of recovery for each.
The report also looked at some specific sectors of the legal profession, including the public sector, which it notes had been growing again from 2017 following many years of austerity.
In particular, it predicts sustained growth in the Government Legal Department (GLD) and some non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) due to the aftermath of Brexit and the promised post-pandemic government-led infrastructure programme. In local government, LexisNexis expects substantial growth in demand for legal services which is unlikely to be fully matched by a growth in resources. “Councils find themselves needing to do (much) more with (only slightly) more – demand for their services has grown significantly and has likely not kept pace with resources, a challenge that will only grow greater with COVID-19,” the report said.
Elsewhere, despite the problems in the property market, the report predicted that two-thirds of small firms – historically a source of recruitment for local authorities - would continue to expand. The outlook for the bar is much less positive as the closure of the courts has decimated many chambers’ revenues and up to a third may not survive long enough to benefit from any bounce back when the courts re-open.
Chris O’Connor, Head of Segment Marketing at LexisNexis and author of the report said: “These are tough times for the legal market. I hope that this report helps legalpractitioners to make the very difficult decisions that lie ahead.”
The report can be downloaded at: https://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/GrossLegalProductIndex