The year the future arrived

In September this year The Lawyer devoted an entire issue to futurology. What would the legal profession look like in 2020? We made specific predictions around UK market consolidation and law firm collapses, a radical change in resourcing structures and growing demands from in-house lawyers. It was one of our most successful editions of the year and generated hordes of comments and views of our video interviews with DLA Piper’s Tony Angel and Allen & Overy’s David Morley.

 Let’s take a look at some of the stats from 2013:

– 48 UK firms were involved in mergers.

– Of those mergers, two involved distressed assets.

– Four firms collapsed: Challinors, Cobbetts, Follett Stock and Harris Cartier.

– Of the 48 mergers, not one was a merger of equals.

– Four US firms launched in London: Andrews Kurth, Boies Schiller, Bracewell & Giuliani and Butler Snow.

– Four firms in the top 50 of The Lawyer UK 200 replenished their capital structure via cash-calls: DAC Beachcroft, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hill Dickinson and Withers.

– Three out of four magic circle firms posted revenue rises: A&O, Freshfields and Linklaters.

– There were 46 formal panel reviews led by UK in-house departments.

– Two in-house legal departments launched innovative ABS-style arrangements: BT and Harrow and Barnet councils.

– 26 per cent of the 1,142 in-house lawyers surveyed in our In-House Attitudes report believed their staffing levels would increase.

– 19 per cent of the same sample thought their legal budget would grow; 24.7 per cent said it would probably shrink.

– 144 ABS licences were issued by the SRA, up 112 per cent from 2012.

– Three insurers showed acquisitive interest in the legal market: Ageas, BGL Group and Direct Line Group.

– 141 firms are on the SRA danger list, having failed to secure professional indemnity cover.

– Ten firms opened in Beijing including Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Clyde & Co, Gibson Dunn and Kirkland & Ellis.

– Just four of the 23 foreign firms that applied for a Singapore licence succeeded.

– Partner promotions at the top 20 firms dropped by 15 per cent.

– Eight firms launched apprenticeships, giving places to 31 youngsters.

– The top 10 firms cut their NQ places by 12 per cent.

In other words: consolidation, law firm collapses, changes in resourcing structures
and growing demands from in-house lawyers. Crystal ball-gazing is easy – the future’s already here.

Happy Christmas