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UK 'leading the way with legal services'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 03/03/14
British legal services lead the way when it comes to conducting international business, while New York has the largest domestic market, according to a new report from TheCityUK.

London in particular is something of a hub for private practice and in-house lawyers from around the globe, partly thanks to its status as a convenient link between continental Europe and the US.

The UK accounts for around seven per cent of global law firms' fee revenue, meaning it is by far the biggest European market.

Nicholas Lavender QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said: "Once again, these figures demonstrate how important the UK's legal services sector is to our economy and to the economic recovery. English law remains one of our most significant exports and continues to ensure the UK plays a leading role in global commerce."

The largest law firms in London tend to have more lawyers overseas and a wider, better-connected global network than their American counterparts, the study revealed.

However, the capital is not the only crucial factor in the UK legal sector's impressive internationalism - many Scottish lawyers are in demand worldwide, particularly when it comes to advising on resource-focused transactions.

Furthermore, in Northern Ireland a number of legal workers hold dual qualifications and as such are able to appear in court in the Republic of Ireland.

Although slower economic growth in established markets is likely to hold the industry back to some extent over the course of 2014, attempts to move into new countries will soon bear fruit in terms of revenue.

And the sector remains crucial to the UK's economy as a whole - its valued doubled in the last decade to reach £20.4 billion, or 1.5 per cent of the overall GDP, in 2012.

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: "The importance of high-quality legal advice has long been recognised as central to all financial and business transactions."