2019 was an interesting year for the legal market. Despite constant political uncertainty, signs of weakness in global economies, and Brexit continuing to loom over us, the legal market has remained buoyant and shows no sign of letting up. Over the past year here at Pro-Legal, we have seen a number of firms ranging from White Shoe US firms, Magic Circle through to boutique firms continue to recruit, not only to replace, but also impressive increases in new work and fulfilling ambitious growth plans. We expect that 2020 will prove to be no different, and changes in regulation and technology are likely to reshape the market as we move forward into the next decade.
Going forward into 2020, due to the outcome of the election we can predict more stability around the subject on the basis that Brexit will be going ahead. The political and economic uncertainty from the past few years inevitably caused firms to be more cautious in their outlook and planning, but with the end in sight, we expect to see law firms driving forwards in the next year.
We are also likely to see investors starting to invest at a higher rate. There was inevitably a hold on stock investments into the UK for a period, but now people are looking at how to best spread their money and in turn, are seeking legal advice on the best route to invest and to deal with any obstacles. Firms are also likely to see Brexit as an opportunity and we predict that there will be plenty of activity in the market fuelled by private equity money, particularly in the region of mid-market entrepreneurial businesses.
Technology and automation will continue to have a huge impact on the legal sector. Going forward into 2020, we will inevitably see even more investments in technology and AI, which means more automating processes. The so-called "digital revolution" and its new technologies are revolutionizing the world of work and in turn, disrupting professional services. Organisations are being forced to evolve to avoid being negatively impacted by advancements in technology, and law firms need to ensure they are constantly adapting, investing in technology, and transforming their processes in order to thrive. This also means that it is even more important for legal professionals to ensure that their soft skills and technical skills are up to scratch.
Alongside Brexit and advancements in technology, law firms should also consider the growing cyber risks in 2020. Law firms typically hold a lot of valuable data and so is a concern that firms should be working to actively prevent cyber attacks and data breaches on a regular basis, particularly when considering the recent tightening of GDPR rules and regulations.
The pressure on profits is forcing organisations and firms to drive profitable growth in new ways. Mergers & acquisitions with firms based outside of the UK are becoming an increasingly common way to boost profit and growth in the international market. This form of business requires a great deal of legal attention to ensure everything is done exactly right, and is an industry that is expected to generate five billion. It is therefore essential that law firms are ready to take advantage and provide innovative solutions to these M&A processes.
Despite uncertainty in 2019, the majority of firms have still reported growth - both profit and revenue - and going forward into 2020 we expect a period of growth as many of the aforementioned UK and global factors take effect. Our clients have indicated that with renewed budgets in January they are keen to continue hiring experienced talent into their growing teams. If you would like a confidential discussion about the market and your options moving forward, please do get in touch as one of our expert advisors can offer you a fantastic insight into what might be available to you.