More firms opened in the month after the Jackson reforms came into force than at any point for almost two years.
According to figures published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, 138 firms opened in April – 39% more than in April 2012 and a 77% increase on March 2013.
The numbers will come as a surprise given the gloomy outlook many forecast following significant reform of the civil justice system on 1 April.
But one analyst has told the Gazette that uncertainty in the legal sector may in fact be the biggest factor behind the high number of start-ups.
‘We have seen the same thing on this over the last 18 months,’ said Andrew Allen, partner at accountancy firm Francis Clark, which advises solicitor firms.
‘Lots of new starts have been people leaving firms where they don’t think there is a future for the type of work they do, don’t want to borrow a lot of money to buy old partners out, or don’t want to inherit a badly run business and would rather start afresh.’
But Allen added that he was starting to see more consolidation in the form of mergers and firms shutting down.
Barring two occasions, the SRA figures show the number of firms opening has outstripped those closing every month for the past two years.
In April this year, there were 35 new registered sole practitioners and 22 new alternative business structures.
An SRA spokeswoman suggested the regulator’s new policy of fast-tracking applications may be having an effect.