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Taking the pulse: evidence of cautious optimism as surges in key practice areas counteract market impact of COVID-19

Image Credit: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Lawyers were more optimistic going into the end of 2020 compared with last summer according to a survey of 366 of lawyers in law firms, barristers’ chambers, as well as those in the public and corporate sector. We asked them for their views on the three and six-month outlook in the current climate. The same survey had been conducted in June 2020 with 476 respondents participating.

For your copy of ‘LPE Quarterly Pulse Survey Q3 2020 Pulse Report Findings’, please click here.

Expectations for the next three and six months

In June, 40 percent of respondents expected some level of decline in the following three months; in October this fell to 18 percent of respondents. The six-month outlook has also improved, with a fall to 18 percent of respondents who expected a decline in demand, from 33 percent in June.

While the survey found an increase in optimism across all segments, the biggest shift in outlook is among law firm respondents and barristers. Larger law firms can also expect to see an uptick in demand for their services as government and corporate clients consider outsourcing in order to deal with increased demands on their internal departments.

In the public sector, more respondents expect to see an increase in demand for their team’s work than in June, with central government respondents in particular expecting a rise in demand for legal services since the last survey.

Practice areas where respondents expect to see an impact

The survey found that some practice areas have seen an increase in their volume of work due to government initiatives, for example, stamp duty holidays buoying up the residential property market, or clients requiring employment advice arising from the heavy use of the furlough scheme. Other factors, such as the need to keep up to speed with ever-changing government guidance, a reduction in commercial transactions and court backlogs have had a dampening effect on business.

The top five practice areas where an increase in demand is expected are

  • Employment,
  • Litigation/Dispute Resolution,
  • Private Client,
  • Family, and
  • Residential Property

Approaches to the anticipated increase in demand are similar across segments

Anticipated approaches to dealing with increasing demand are similar across segments and include reallocating work internally or hiring additional people. Technology solutions also play a role in helping law firms flex to meet increased demand in certain practice areas. Among corporates and the public sector, increases are expected to be managed by out-sourcing to law firms, alongside these other approaches.

Add your voice to our latest pulse survey

Thomson Reuters regularly conducts this survey to understand the outlook from lawyers for the next three and six months.

The latest survey is open until late February 2021 and you can participate to ensure your views are added by clicking here.

The surveys are anonymous and take approximately two minutes to complete. There is also the opportunity to participate in a prize draw as a thank you for your time.


For your copy of ‘LPE Quarterly Pulse Survey Q3 2020 Pulse Report Findings’, please click here.


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