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What does the future of legal services look like?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 05/02/16

‘The Future of Legal Services’, a recent report from the Law Society in the UK, has caused a stir in the legal sector with its suggestions that women will dominate the arena and small firms will become obsolete as many solicitors reach retiring age.

Catherine Dixon, chief executive of the Law Society, commented that the report: “looks at the market to see what is coming down the track – horizon scanning – and part of it is us wanting to be more pro-active.”

The report reveals that the solicitors’ profession has grown by 35% between 2004 and 2014 when a total of 130,382 in England and Wales had practice certificates. In that time, there was a sharp incline of women, which led to the calculation that by 2020, women will account for more than half of solicitors for the first time.

As well as this, vast numbers of the workforce are ageing with many reaching retirement. However, the report casts aspersions over whether some will actually be able to afford to retire. It claims that, “A part of the profession, in the smallest firms, will struggle on when they are ill-equipped to do so, until something serious goes wrong, such as a mistake, leading to the inability to obtain insurance, or ill-health, or a regulatory issue.”

Another prediction made is that in-house roles will continue to grow exponentially – as much as 31% between 2010 and 2014. The age-old, somewhat detached legal arm is set to become an integral part of many organisations, aiding with big transactions, dealing with regulation and acting as ‘revenue generators’.

Dixon surmises: “We are going through a period of change as a profession — with change comes some threats but massive opportunities. We need to start looking at changes ahead so solicitors are informed and can take decisions on these issues.”

So it looks as though some big changes could be in store for the legal sector – we look forward to seeing what the next few years have in store.