The end of normal for the legal sector?




Firms would have a right to feel nervous, but our survey respondents suggest that this isn’t the case. 69% of respondents feel reasonably confident about the business outlook for their firm, while 11% feel very confident. Just 20% feel not very or not at all confident, which is perhaps low considering the impending economic shocks.

When we look back to our findings in 2008, confidence was much lower; 42% of respondents were feeling not very or not at all confident in their business outlook following the global financial crisis. The source of confidence in 2020 isn’t particularly clear.

It could stem from the fact that many senior executives successfully navigated the 2008 crisis, and so feel better prepared this time around. It could also be that the government’s support measures are providing what many feel is a safety net; indeed 70% of the firms in this year’s survey have signed up to the government’s furlough scheme.

One respondent admitted that their confident outlook was underpinned by “foolish bravado.
If you had asked me in March, I would’ve given a very different answer as we didn’t know what the world would look like.”

Further down the line, this begs the question: Do we really know what the world is going to look like yet? The sensible answer is probably no.

To get to the bottom of the trends affecting the legal industry we have sought the opinions of 198 senior personnel working at law firms throughout the UK. This is the most respondents we’ve ever had in the survey's 26 year history, possibly because lockdown has heightened interest. This year’s focus has centred on changes in competitive pressure, business direction, the future of lock-up, and the short and long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Head to our 2020 Law firm survey findings for more information and to download your copy of the latest survey findings.

Law firm survey 2020


About this survey

The 26th annual Smith & Williamson law firm survey was carried out across May and June 2020 and completed by 198 respondents.

Respondent’s job role:

Regional breakdown:



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This episode was recorded on  15/09/2020

This S&W The Pulse podcast is of a general nature and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility can be accepted for the consequences of any action taken or refrained from as a result of what is said. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the presenter or of Smith & Williamson or any of its affiliates. No reproduction of this podcast may be made in whole or in part for professional or recreational purposes. No action should be taken based on this podcast and we accept no liability if we change your views on any of the subjects mentioned.

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Podcast information:

The Pulse from Smith & Williamson

The end of normal for the legal sector?  

Episode 2

Broadcast on Smith & Williamson at 09:00, 15th of SEPTEMBER 2020

Available online from 10:00 on the same day .

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