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The incredible shrinking law firms in Leeds

Posted by: Laurence Simons 24/07/14

Leeds is apparently not the location of choice for lawyers looking to practise their trade in the UK, if new research is anything to go by. A poll was carried out by The Lawyer magazine and discovered that both lawyer and partner numbers at the city's 'Big Six' firms have been in decline since 2009. Addleshaw Goddard, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Squire Patton Boggs and Walker Morris have all recorded a decline in total staff numbers in the past five years, perhaps suggesting that professionals are keen to head to other big cities in order to stand out and shine in their field.

Eversheds had witnessed the biggest decline at 31.2 per cent, while Walker Morris saw staff numbers dip by 22.5 per cent. The figures for Addleshaws and Pinsents were down 14 and 12.9 per cent respectively, while Squire Patton Boggs got off relatively lightly with a decline of only 3.6 per cent.
Total lawyer headcounts only went up at Addleshaws and Walker Morris, which could have jobseekers wondering what these firms are doing to attract talented individuals when they seem to be jumping ship elsewhere.

However, the companies all told the magazine that these figures aren't a sign they are ditching Leeds and that it should remain the biggest legal market outside London.
The figures could be linked to a decline in fortune for Leeds as a whole. In 2009, the city's workplace-based Gross Value Added was reduced by six per cent, the biggest fall for any major British city, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

There was a recovery of four per cent in 2011, but another dip in 2012 - so perhaps people can be forgiven for wondering if they would be better off working elsewhere in these circumstances.
It comes after The Lawyer also recently published figures showing that the Magic Circle accounted for only just under half of the UK legal sector's revenues over the last decade, suggesting their dominance could be slipping.