COVID-19 is continuing to impact the way we live and work. With81% of the world’s population experiencing a partly- or fully-closed workplace, most of the global workforce have had to dramatically rethink the way they approach their work – and for many, the structure of the workday may not even exist anymore, as one million UK workers are currently under the government’s furlough scheme.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a deep dive into the UK’s legal industry to try to understand how the viral pandemic is influencing activity, processes and the workforce itself. Find out how COVID-19 is impacting the legal market.
Most sectors slow down – but some spike
The legal sector has seen a slowdown in most subsectors across the board, with some impacted more than others. At Service Care Solutions, we’ve seen property law significantly impacted by COVID-19, with a dramatic slowdown in the buying and selling of property trickling down to demand for property law.
The traditional ‘spring selling season’ that usually boosts the UK property market is all but forgotten in 2020, with predictions that the property market could fall by up to 10% this year as an impact of the virus. The lockdown rules mean that agents, buyers and surveyors are unable to make home visits, which has led to a rise in virtual tours but has also seen the property market slow down significantly. Guidelines around buying and selling remain unclear, with questions arising over whether sales can be ‘parked’ once legal agreements are in place, rather than totally abandoned, as well as questions around the legal and financial implications of pulling out of a deal. As the answers to these questions become clearer, we will hopefully see more demand for property lawyers to help navigate deals during this time.
Meanwhile, we have seen increases in demand for some sectors, and unfortunately not always for positive reasons. Our hiring managers are expecting an increase in child law matters due to the long-term isolation of families. The Guardian reports that the number of urgent care proceedings in the family courts has increased since the beginning of the pandemic, with some family courts seeing fivefold increases in case care proceedings over the previous weeks.
New ways of working emerge
Some within the legal industry are welcoming small outcomes from COVID-19, namely the adoption of new technologies across the board. The legal industry has historically been slow to adopt new technologies, but the pandemic has forced many technology-shy parts of the business to adopt processes such as video conference to conduct essential practice functions. Court tribunals are taking place via telecom, which has meant litigation matters can remain largely unaffected, and some lawyers are working at home for the first time ever. Teams are moving from face-to-face conversations to virtual meetings and are adopting electronic data rooms for checking documents, and we can expect to see some of these changes remaining in place long after the pandemic pressure lessens.
Meanwhile, some law firms are repurposing their junior and more flexible lawyers to focus resources on the areas they’re needed most. Restructuring and insolvency are huge matters within the legal industry currently, so we can expect to see more core restructuring lawyers working on COVID-19-related work in the coming months. This is already occurring in Ashurst and DLA Piper, where corporate lawyers have volunteered to help tackle mounting workloads by working on restructuring and insolvency mandates. As M&A volumes continue to fall, lawyers with relevant experience are taking up this restructuring and insolvency work to not only support their team members and businesses, but also to remain relevant in the current marketplace.
Find your next legal job at Service Care Solutions
At Service Care solutions, we specialise in recruiting legal professionals for private practice and the public sector in the UK. If you’re a solicitor, property lawyer, childcare solicitor, litigation solicitor or any other legal professional looking for your next career step, take a look at our current legal jobs or contact us here if you would like some general advice about job seeking or hiring right now.