UK Becomes Global Legal Eagle As Value of Sector Soars

27 Mar, 2013

TheCityUK’s latest Legal Services Report highlights that the value of the legal services sector to the UK economy doubled in the last decade from £10.6bn in 2001 to £20.9bn (1.6% of GDP) in 2011. Furthermore, gross fees generated by law firms in the UK increased by 5% in the financial year 2011/2012 to £26.8bn. Fee income of the largest 100 law firms in the UK also increased by 17% in the same period.

TheCityUK’s report also shows that the legal sector in the UK accounts for around 7% of the global market for legal services, making it the largest market in Europe. Moreover, over half of the revenue of the largest 100 law firms in the UK is generated by international law firms based in London.

The report was launched at an event addressed by the Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling, where he also announced the next phase of the Government’s plans to promote the UK’s legal services sector both within the UK and overseas.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of TheCityUK, said: “While it’s not been immune to the challenging conditions affecting the economy, the legal services market is proving remarkably resilient.  The sector made a significant direct contribution to the UK economy over the last decade. And, most importantly, the legal services industry is creating value across the regions, with two-thirds of employees outside London. Our research shows that Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow have joined London to form the top eight centres of legal excellence in the UK.”

UK Trade & Investment Minister, Lord Green, added: “The quality of our judicial system brings more international litigants to the UK every year.  The UK’s legal expertise is also an extremely valuable export in its own right as well as underpinning our strong commercial offer across a range of sectors. I see real opportunities in emerging economies where there is an increasing need for high quality legal service providers.  That is why I am delighted that UK Trade & Investment is continuing our successful collaboration with TheCityUK, The Ministry of Justice and professional bodies throughout the UK to further promote the use of UK legal services abroad and to cement our position as a centre of legal excellence and the jurisdiction of choice for dispute resolution”.

The strength of London and the UK as an international centre for legal services is reinforced by the expertise of barristers and advocates involved in international practice. Over 1,200 members of the Commercial Bar Association and many members of other specialist bar associations practice in the field of international commercial law, with many cases heard in the Commercial Court, the Chancery Division, and the Technology and Construction Court. There are also over 200 foreign law firms with offices in London.

Chris Cummings said: “The UK has a strong reputation as the leading global centre for the provision of legal services, arbitration and dispute resolution. Both UK and international businesses and individuals use English law to protect their interests and enforce contracts. But legal services are also one of our finest and most effective exports. For example, our Unlocking Disputes campaign is opening up opportunities in jurisdictions ranging from Brazil to Vietnam. We will continue to support the Ministry of Justice and UKTI to promote the legal sector at home and abroad.”

TheCityUK’s legal services report underlines the significant contribution made by the industry to the UK economy as indicated by:

–       The £20.9bn contribution to UK gross domestic product in 2011, 1.6% of  total GDP;

–       The 340,000 people employed in legal services in 2011 which includes over 130,000 solicitors and 16,000 barristers and advocates. Around two-thirds of these are employed outside London;

–       The 10 law firms listed amongst the largest 100 UK graduate recruiters list in 2012. UK law firms’ graduate intake totalled around 800 in aggregate, about 5% of the total graduate recruitment in 2012;

–       The positive contribution to the UK’s balance of payments with a trade surplus of £3,304m in 2011, up nearly three times from a decade earlier.

The report, however, predicts a slight slowdown in fee revenue growth in the 2012/2013 financial year.

Following the publication of the Plan for Growth: Promoting the UK’s Legal Services Sector published in mid-2011, the Government has worked closely with the TheCityUK, the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council of England and Wales to promote the UK’s legal services offer abroad. The renewed action plan launched in March 2013, focusing on the whole of the UK legal offering is called UK Legal Services on the International Stage: Underpinning Growth and Stability, and is seeking to build on the previous document, to promote further the use of UK legal services more widely on the international stage.

About the author

Related Posts

Leave a reply