Leeds Big Six lawyer numbers slump as city's legal market reinvents itself

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  • "second-largest UK legal market outside London"

    Curious. Why is this?

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  • Agree with Anonymous 10.52AM - there's no way Leeds is the second largest legal market in the UK after London. The West Midlands has a population of 5.2 million people, Greater Manchester has a population of over 2.5 million people, while Leeds is around 750,000, it simply could not generate more legal work than other major centres. Sounds like more local PR spin from Leeds.

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  • The data, drawn from TheCityUK, relates to Leeds as a city (versus say, Manchester or Birmingham) rather than West Yorkshire or Yorkshire as a region (versus Greater Manchester or the West Midlands). It is probably true that as a region West Yorkshire is a smaller legal market than its competitors, but the data says that as a single city Leeds is the second-largest behind London.

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  • "Second-largest UK legal market outside London" means third-largest overall. So - London, Birmingham, Leeds. "Outside" does not mean the same as "after".

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  • It is widely known that Leeds has the biggest legal market outside of London. Or, at least, had the biggest legal market. The Chief Exec of The Law Society stated recently that he thought Manchester had over taken Leeds in the last year or so.

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  • London of the North

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  • Comment Joanne, thank you for your response.

    Noted that the stat relates to Leeds as a city (as opposed to Manchester or Birmingham - though I am still surprised by this). But then I guess it turns on how you define a 'legal market'. You could argue that legal markets are not delineated by city but rather by region i.e. Yorkshire, North West, Midlands.

    And what of Scotland?!

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  • When I first started to recruit lawyers in Leeds in 2001, you had a very firmly identifiable Big 6 and then a mid tier comprised mainly of Leeds headquartered firms. The figures here show that Solicitor numbers in the Big 6 have remained largely static since 2009 - the big change has actually been in the mid tier with a number of firms coming in from Manchester, Newcastle and now Nottingham. You are right to name check Bond Dickinson et al, but the big change has been DWF who have recruited many people from the Big 6. In short, the Big 6 has barely changed; the mid tier has changed beyond recognition.

    The main feature also points out - quite correctly - that Manchester has jumped so far ahead of Leeds in recent years. Manchester built Spinningfields, Leeds erected a number of soulless, isolated identikit office blocks across the southern swathe of the city; Manchester (or rather Salford) got Media City, Leeds got a new BBC office with a curry house underneath.

    Perhaps Yorkshire's greatest strength - its pride, its sense of identity - also comes with an element of insularity (Leeds firms look to be big in Yorkshire, Manchester and Geordie firms look to come into Leeds) and its perhaps telling that very few of the non Big 6 Leeds firms have looked beyond the Three Ridings for headcount and office growth.

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  • Very curious that DWF aren't mentioned, surely with their recent growth they are one of the big players in the region (and nationally for that matter, as a top 20 law firm). Especially curious as this article focusses on headcount which must have increased significantly over the last 12/18 months at DWF Leeds...

    Didn't they win Yorkshire Law firm of the Year recently too?

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  • Most UK firms have reduced their (non-lawyer) staffing levels in the last five years. Fee earner to secretary ratios have dropped considerably. Looking at numbers of lawyers - two out of the Big 6 have increased lawyer numbers (and two named have dropped). When you add in firms like DWF (grown from 50 to 350 staff including over 200 lawyers since 2009), Ward Hadaway, Stewarts, Clarion who have all grown considerably in that period, and add in firms like Gordons, Irwin Mitchell and Lupton Fawcett who have continued to grow since 2009 - it is likely that there are as many (if not more) lawyers in Leeds as in 2009. There is certainly no doom and gloom in the UK's largest legal market outside of London!

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