The legal landscape — so that was 2013, what will 2014 bring?

By Angus Turner

Twelve months is a long time. It is probably overstating it to say that the profession has seen unprecedented change, but it has been both dramatic and volatile. This is likely to concern insurers, given that volatility can produce its own problems, but it is hoped that a period of consolidation will follow.

While Jackson stole all the headlines, it is the record level of law firm mergers that may, perhaps, have the most long-term impact on the profession. This followed an exceptionally busy 2012 in terms of mergers. We understand that 28 mergers arose in 2013, involving at least one firm in the Top 100. Firms such as Wragges, Lawrence Graham, DWF and Slater & Gordon have all been in the news, and it is unlikely to come to an end just yet.

UK mergers are likely to be the main events, as international mergers throw up serious disparities in profit levels, which can often make mergers too difficult to implement. Further, the level of consolidation was not solely driven by the traditional 2 + 2 = 5 model, and financial instability was understood to be a factor at times…

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