UK remains world-leading legal hub

The UK has retained its position as a world-leading centre for international legal services and dispute resolution, according to research published on Wednesday.

View of Lady Justice on top of Old Bailey the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales

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According to the 11th annual report on legal services from TheCityUK – the trade body for financial services and related professions – revenues generated by the sector rose 12.5 per cent to £41 billion in the 2021-22 financial year.

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UK preferred legal hub in Europe

"The UK is the largest legal services market in Europe and second only to the US globally – a position bolstered by the international prestige of English common law," reported TheCityUK.The report, Legal Excellence, Internationally Renowned 2022, also illustrated the strength of the industry across the country, with two-thirds of the approximately 375,000 people employed in the sector based in towns and cities outside London. Among major legal centres outside the capital were Manchester, with 13,000 employees, Leeds (10,000) and Birmingham (9,000).Miles Celic, CEO of TheCityUK, said: “The UK’s legal services sector continues to be a great British success story."The UK is the preferred legal hub in Europe, the leading destination for businesses to resolve international commercial disputes, and English common law is the most popular choice of governing law for cross-border contracts.“Despite the challenging economic and geopolitical backdrop, the sector has continued to be a major employer and key contributor to economies across the country. It is also a critical part of what makes the UK a world-leading international centre."But there is no room for complacency. The sector must keep innovating to retain its world-leading status and ensure it continues to provide a strong foundation for the country’s future economic success."

Lawtech market grows

The report found that the UK also continues to be a global hub for LawTech, a market now estimated to be worth at least $15.9 billion globally."For legal advisers, it enables them to spend more time providing clients with quality advice, reduces costs and administrative burden and boosts efficiency in legal firms," said the organisation."As of December 2020, around 200 legal tech businesses in the UK have attracted £674 million in investment and employ more than 7,000 people, with Belfast emerging as a leading centre for legal innovation."The research also found that, while private practice had continued to see growth, there had been a further, significant increase in the number of lawyers working in-house in England and Wales, with more than a quarter of all practising certificate holders (33,370) working in-house last year – 20 per cent up on a decade earlier. Scotland also experienced a similar trend, with 25 per cent of the profession now working in-house.

Further findings

The survey also found:
  • Revenue generated by the UK’s 100 largest law firms grew by nine per cent to £31.4 billion in 2021-22, an increase of more than 50 per cent over the decade.
  • More than 200 foreign law firms from 40 jurisdictions have offices in the UK, with all the world’s top 40 law firms having an office in London.
London is seen as the world’s preferred centre for arbitration. In 2021, 28,639 civil disputes were resolved through arbitration, mediation and adjudication. Additionally, parties from 75 countries used the Commercial Courts in 2021-22.

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