Revenues generated by the UK legal sector in the first quarter of calendar 2020 were down 6.6% on the final quarter of 2019 according to the first official statistics showing the impact of the coronavirus crisis. While Q1 figures are generally lower than those of Q4 because of seasonal factors, the drop this year was the highest in four years, a full percentage point greater than last year's, according to an analysis of official figures by litigation funder Augusta.
According to preliminary figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday, the UK economy shrank by 5.8% in March, the largest month-on-month fall since records began. The period includes only the first week of the lockdown.
The service sector as a whole has experienced a sharp downturn: in Q1 2020 turnover was £53.49bn, down 7.6% from record highs in Q4 2019.
Louis Young, Augusta's managing director, said: 'The legal industry in the UK had already started to see growth fall off before the pandemic hit. UK law firms have seen significant revenue falls since lockdown began, Q2 will unfortunately be well below past quarters. Many firms are seeking support for their businesses - the provision of finance from external sources will be incredibly important to their survival as time progresses.'
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.