Revenue of the 100 biggest UK law firms grew by four per cent to £28.8bn in 2021, according to a new report by a professional body for financial and professional services.
The news comes as City law firms battle it out in a bidding war for junior lawyers. Last week ‘silver circle’ law firm Herbert Smith Freehills joined the clamour by raising newly qualified lawyer salaries to £105,000. Magic circle law firm Clifford Chance also recently hiked starting salaries for newly qualified lawyers to £107,500.
Another trend identified in TheCityUK’s annual report into the legal services sector was that of a growing number of solicitors working in-house.
Almost a quarter of all 31,000 solicitors in England and Wales worked in the in-house sector last year, a 16 per cent increase over the last decade. The figure is believed to be even higher by The Law Society.
“In the midst of dealing with challenges related to Covid-19, the UK-based legal services sector has shown great resilience,” concluded TheCityUK chief executive Miles Celic.
Strong revenue growth at the biggest 100 law firms in the country has meant revenue has more than doubled over the past decade, with the biggest players netting £13.7bn in 2010.
While taking on more business, headcount at the top 100 firms has also increased and, including partners, is over 77,000 – a three per cent year-on-year increase in the past year.
Meanwhile total revenue in the sector has steadily risen over the past decade too, and jumped by 44 per cent between 2010 and 2019 to £36.8bn.
Celic said the industry remained a “trump card in the UK’s wider competitive offer as a global hub for financial and related professional services.”
On a global stage the UK’s legal sector is performing well and accounts for a third of Western European legal services fee revenue and around seven per cent of global legal services fee revenue, which came to around $713bn in 2020.
The growth of the legal sector would help the UK “maintain deep pools of legal talent and retain its status as one of the world’s leading centres for legal services and dispute resolution,” said Celic.