How Coronavirus Might Affect the UK Legal Services Market

It certainly will have an effect but what it will be no-one knows. Here are my thoughts for what they’re worth. I’d welcome other people’s opinions. This is obviously a fluid situation.

By Practice Area

Conveyancing – likely to take a hit – is moving house unnecessary travel? I wouldn’t be surprised if this will be a bit like the financial crisis in 2007, although, hopefully shorter.

Civil Litigation – courts likely to shut, already hearing on in-person hearings being adjourned. If they do, then cases will gum up in the system, as will cashflow from concluded cases – unless they settle out of court.

Mediation & other forms of ADR – face to face will stop – on-line will increase, especially as the courts will not be operating or be slower.

Criminal – crims are likely to keep ‘working’ – but courts likely to slow down - Jury trails are to stop from April onwards, don’t know if will affect cashflow. Not sure how much social distancing can be done in a police cell. Let’s hope the LAA will continue to process your payment claims with their normal speed and accuracy!

Family – likely to slow for now and then be very busy once we are allowed to move about again.

Immigration – likely to move on-line. Those firms that rely on face-to-face work are likely to suffer more

Commercial Property – pretty much the same as for domestic conveyancing.

Employment – likely to be very busy for employment lawyers – with people being made redundant or changed working arrangements.

Commercial – likely to be a spike as companies seek assistance with their documents, but then falling away as commercial activity is subdued.

Insolvency – likely to increase but be impacted by the inability to shift the main asset if that is a building.

Corporate – likely to be a lot to start off with as businesses seek assistance, and then some ongoing as those which are in better shape see opportunities

Private Client – likely to see a significant increase at all levels, although completion of probate might be held back by the slow down of the property market.

Suggested Immediate Action

  1. Try as best as you can to identify the impact on the likely model of what you think might happen. Identify the cases likely to be stuck and the areas that are likely to slow down or get busy. Put in place plans A, B & C. Analyse the likely impact on cashflow (It’s lack of cash that kills most businesses). We can help to provide additional resource – is needed. Please contact us.
  2. Look to how you will get new work in these changed times. Those relying on digital means are best equipped – although competition is likely to intensify. If you are relying on footfall etc then look at other methods. Again, we may be able to help. Please contact us.
  3. Move as much as you can on-line. By now most firms will have put in place home working. This may be a sysmic shift in our working patters. I suspect that after this is over a lot of businesses will continue with a lot more homeworking than was the case before. Look to move onto the cloud – there are case management systems out there that are on true cloud. Video conferencing and conference calling are now available as options. Electronic signing of documents by parties has recently been approved by the Lord Chancellor as good signature – even for deeds. If you would like assistance with any of this we can help, either suggesting technological solutions or specialist support.
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