Demand for commercial legal advice will rise over the next 18 months, according to an annual market bellwether*, but some sectors are becoming crowded with law firm teams created to serve specific industries.
Of 180 large and SME businesses surveyed by IRN Research, most expect their demands for legal services to stay unchanged over that period. But nearly a third of large businesses and 16% of SMEs predict a rise in their use of external advice. Just 9% of large businesses and 11% of SMEs expect a fall. Most large businesses reported using more than one law firm.
IRN surveyed the websites of the top 200 law firms to guage how many have created vertical sector teams to advise different industries. Thirteen vertical sectors are listed by over 50 firms, led by real estate (101), financial services and insurance (97), and hospitality, leisure and sport (91). Another 10 sectors reach double figures.
Some vertical sectors are already becoming crowded, the report warns, with the next emergent trend a move to more niche expertise. In health, for example, niche specialties include GPs, independent hospitals and social care.
UK-based business law firms and chambers generated revenues of £15.4bn in 2017, says IRN, a 4% rise on the previous year.
*The UK Business Legal Services Market, £350