10th Annual Survey of Law Firms in Ireland

The immediate impact of the pandemic may be ebbing, but law firms must now deal with new challenges. In our 10th Annual Survey of Law Firms in Ireland, we show how they are adapting to the new normal, from agile working and new technology to a changing economy. This ‘new normal’ may present a chance to create a new more effective operating model that works for businesses and people navigating a world of increasing uncertainty.

Key findings of our latest law firm survey

Most firms are now looking forward to an improved outlook for their firms over the next twelve months, though Covid-19 continues to impact negatively on turnover and profits.

While some familiar challenges have re-emerged, such as recruiting and retaining talented professionals, firms also need to contend with the demands of agile working, new technology and the withdrawal of government Covid-19 supports.


Sector confidence has returned

Almost half of all respondent firms reported an improved outlook for their firms over the last twelve months (47%) or that things remained the same (43%). This was a marked improvement on last year. Turnover improved for 39% of firms (and 53% of Top 20 firms), while 37% of all firms (53% of Top 20 firms) reported an increase in their profits. However, most firms continue to report that Covid has impacted negatively on their turnover, which remains below pre-Covid levels.

Attracting and retaining talent

After a brief hiatus, attracting and retaining talented professionals has remerged as a significant challenge, particularly for Top 20 and Dublin-based firms. Firms have started to expand staff numbers once again over the last 12 months. Increasingly firms recognise that they need to offer agile working options to retain high quality staff, with just one in three regional and smaller Dublin firms saying they are unlikely facilitate remote working and most Top 20 firms planning to do so.

There has also been a recovery in pay after cuts last year. This year only a small number fo firms reported salary cuts, compared to 34% of firms (60% of Top 20) in 2020. Only 3% of firms overall report they have not reinstated wage cuts implemented in 2020. There has been a continued reduction of partner drawings in 42% of firms, but at a lower level than in 2020.


The pandemic continues to slow merger and acquisition activity in the Irish marketplace. Only one in five firms said they had initiated an approach to other firms with a view to a merger or acquisition in the last twelve months

Technology and cyber risk

It is clear that cyber security remains a top priority for many Irish law firms. Agile working has given rise to significant concern among employers, including law firms, as they have seen themselves as targets of increased activity. There have been reported incidences of attacks on transfers of monies from client accounts in law firms, causing financial loss to firms. Cyber risk is now seen as one of the biggest challenges facing firms over the next three years, as reported by 27 % of all firms (up from 7% in 2020).

The year ahead holds many challenges, some familiar and some a direct consequence of the pandemic. Nevertheless, forward-thinking firms are using this pivotal moment to rethink their business models, creating a leaner and more effective business for the future. This may become a necessity for law firms navigating a world of increasing uncertainty.


Get in touch


Paul  Wyse 's Profile Photo

Paul Wyse

Managing director, Transaction Services

Dublin (Sandyford)
Marc  Lowry 's Profile Photo

Marc Lowry

Head of Business Development

Business development
Dublin (Sandyford)

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