The Legal Industry in 2021: Advice, guidance and representation
The difficulties of 2020 forced the legal industry to adapt quickly to provide advice, guidance and representation to clients during lockdowns and commercial turmoil. We understand more about the changes in the legal industry in 2021.
Lawyers have on the whole moved rapidly to adjust their way of working to make sure they are able to support clients, whose need has become greater in a number of key areas including business and commercial, employment, commercial property, insolvency and dispute resolution.
Looking ahead to the legal industry in 2021, the year will clearly start with more of the same, as businesses continue to adjust and structure their operations to cope with the ongoing crisis.
Legal support in a wide variety of areas will be more important than ever, with lawyers becoming more central to commercial efficiency and success. We take a look at the role of law firms in helping and guiding clients through the period of disruption.
Robust legal framework
As everyone moved to adapt to the overnight changes in 2020, businesses with a strong legal foundation in place had a clear advantage.
Those with well-drafted contracts that addressed what should happen in unusual circumstances, and how disputes should be resolved, were able to avoid misunderstandings and disagreements.
As companies needing help in this area looked to their lawyers to assist, law firms themselves found they were resilient in the face of the pandemic. In fact, in September 2020, the legal industry recorded unprecedented revenue as lawyers stepped in to advise and guide clients through uncharted waters.
Office of National Statistics (ONS) data found that the legal sector generated revenues of £3.1bn in September, some 2 per cent higher than the previous year. July was also a strong month, with the second-highest revenue on record.
Going forward, lawyers will increasingly be called upon to strengthen the terms and conditions of doing business to keep operations running smoothly.
Employment services are likely to continue to be an area of high need for businesses in 2021 as adjustments continue in the face of ongoing difficulties.
Ministry of Justice figures for the quarter April to June 2020, when the first lockdown was in effect, showed an increase of 18 per cent in the number of employment tribunal claims commenced by individuals.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or furlough scheme, will come to an end, being currently scheduled to finish on 31 March 2021. Redundancy is likely to be an issue, both during the operation of the scheme and afterwards, with employers needing to take care to manage any dismissals carefully to avoid unfair dismissal claims.
The ONS noted a record number of redundancies, some 370,000, in the months of August to October 2020, possibly as companies believed the furlough scheme would end in October. A steep increase may well be seen again when the scheme does finally end.
Business restructures and reorganisation will need to be approached carefully. Moving employees to a new role or changing the terms and conditions of their employment will need to be done in accordance with employment law and their contracts to ensure that their employment rights are not breached.
The right legal technology
Tech became more essential than ever in 2020 and began a rapid advance that will no doubt continue through 2021.
A 2020 Thomson Reuters survey found that 91 per cent of law firm leaders expected to use technology to cut costs. As lawyers look to deliver more for less, technology is the solution that will make this happen.
Adopting the right systems to process and manage data, analyse trends and carry out automatic tasks will free lawyers up to concentrate on the more complicated tasks that can only be done with their input. Services will be more streamlined, clients will be able to check on the progress of their matters more easily and law firms who embrace new technology will be working faster and more efficiently.
The Legal Trends Report found that clients are unsurprisingly more comfortable with technology than they were before the pandemic and are using it more widely. Half of those questioned said that they were more accustomed to technology now, 52 per cent are using it more. Nearly three-fifths say that technology is more important to them now, and 53 per cent report that cloud technology is a necessity.
Going forward, law firms are likely to reflect this trend, offering online services and remote meetings, offering legal services in the way that clients demand.
2021 will be a year of rebuilding for many. The role of the law firm is becoming far more integral to many businesses, with services tailored to focus on commercial goals and success. Offering a range of services to clients is essential. Lawyers will need to work to understand businesses so that they can proactively offer guidance and support across a range of areas, rather than be given isolated tasks to perform.
At Lincoln & Rowe, we work with our clients to offer advice in respect of company and commercial activity, employment, insolvency, commercial property, litigation, insolvency and dispute resolution.
Our guidance will take into account the needs of your organisation and we will offer advice across a range of sectors to ensure that your business has a strong legal foundation.
We hope that 2021 will be the year that we all come back stronger and that we are able to embrace future challenges in a more efficient and collaborative way.
Get in touch with us
We understand the importance of helping our clients keep their businesses running smoothly. As well as in-depth commercial expertise we provide an excellent service to our clients and practical advice and guidance.
We have wide-ranging experience in litigation and corporate law, and were named as the ‘Commercial Disputes Specialists of the Year” in the Corporate Livewire Innovation & Excellence Awards 2020 as well as ‘Boutique Litigation Law Firm of the Year’ in both the 2019 and 2020 Global Awards by ACQ5.
If you would like to talk to one of our expert legal team about any queries you may have, contact the author, Dipesh Dosani, or call the team today on 020 3968 6030 and we’ll be happy to help.
The above information is for general guidance on your rights and responsibilities and is not legal advice. If you need more details on your rights or legal advice about what action to take, please contact a legal advisor.