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Covid-19: thoughts of the Legal sector

Every sector, without exception, has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. To determine how lawyers are coping and what their thoughts are about the future, Braemar Finance commissioned independent research* in July, the results of which are outlined, below.

Click here to download 'Covid-19: thoughts of the Legal sector' infographic 

When, if at all, do you believe/expect your business will be fully operational again?

On balance, many lawyers (37%) feel it will take between 3 – 6 months before being fully operational; more optimistically, 32% are of the opinion it will only take them up to 3 months. Over one in 10 lawyers (12%) are taking the longer view and think it will take anything up to a year before things are properly back to normal. 

Do you expect your business to expand or contract over the next 12 months?

At 80%, the majority of lawyers expect their business to ‘stay the same’, against 6% who anticipate expansion and 13% who predict a contraction.

How do you think your revenue during the next 12 months will compare (in % terms) to levels prior to COVID-19 lockdown?

Nine in 10 lawyers predict a reduction in revenue, with the remaining number either expecting an increase or ‘no difference’.

Have you made use of the government’s furlough scheme for staff?

Among the professions, legal firms (71%) were the least likely to have made use of the government’s furlough scheme (professions average: 81%), ahead of dentists (92%), vets (79%) and opticians (85%).

 

In terms of future staffing, will your business operate with more or less staff?

A quarter of lawyers expect to operate with fewer staff in future, with the majority (71%) saying they’ll return with the same number. Only 2% will be employing more.

Which of the following government schemes, if any, have you made use of? (select all that apply)

With the government having acted to make funding schemes available early on during the pandemic, many lawyers have applied for at least one of the schemes, or even a combination, as seen from the results:

  • CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) - 52%
  • Grants - 35%
  • Bounceback loans  - 44%
  • Non of the above - 6%

Thinking about the future, what, if anything, are your priorities in terms of financial support? (tick up to three) 

While lawyers are looking to government funding to see them through the pandemic they are also looking at other ways to ensure they can keep their practice viable, including:

  • Government support and advice - 53%
  • New funding - 40%
  • Consolidation of loans - 40%
  • Payment holidays - 41%
  • Other - 4%
  • Nothing is a priority in terms of financial support - 4%

Going forward which of the following, if any, are you likely to rely on funding for? (tick all that apply)

In common with many other sectors and professions, lawyers’ funding priorities have seen a necessitated shift towards, for example, practice re-fits and PPE; however, the need to invest in equipment remains high on the list. 

  • IT - 39%
  • Equipment - 38%
  • PPE - 37%
  • Cashflow - 38%
  • Hiring new staff - 24%
  • Re-fit - 30%
  • None of the above - 2%

What, if anything, is your business’s current primary source of financial support?

While lawyers are looking to the government for assistance, at 35%, bank / funder loans are their main source of finance, followed by savings (25%) and family and friends (21%).

What, if anything, is your attitude towards debt?

For half of lawyers, debt is ‘part and parcel of running a business’, while for 35% it’s a sign of a poorly run business. The remaining number don’t have a view.

What steps, if any, have you taken to reduce your stress or anxiety? (Select all that apply)

Almost every lawyer that took part in our research relied on at least one coping mechanism to address their mental wellbeing, ranging from maintaining a routine and remaining organised to being more flexible and giving themselves regular breaks.

  • I have tried to maintain a routine - 39%

  • I share concerns with colleagues or friends and family - 37%

  • I give myself regular breaks - 43%

  • I'm more flexible with my working day - 41%

  • I am staying organised - 35%

  • Other - 6%

  • I have not taken any steps to reduce my stress or anxiety - 2%

How supported do you feel by your professional body? 

The majority of lawyers (23% ‘very supported’; 71% ‘somewhat supported’) feel their professional body has done a good during the pandemic. Just 6% have felt let down.

How would you best describe your business's current economic outlook?

Lawyers are fairly evenly split about the prospects for the UK’s economy, with a fifth expecting a quick path to full recovery while another 24% think the economy is still declining, with worse to come.

  • The economy is still declining – there is worse to come - 24%
  • The worst is behind us but it will be a slow path to full recovery - 21%
  • The worst is behind us but I'm concerned the economy could decline again - 25%
  • The worst is behind us but it will be a quick path to full recovery - 20%
  • I don't think there will be any true economic growth for the foreseeable future - 8%

Methodology

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Censuswide survey conducted in late July 2020. The survey canvassed the opinion of over 1200 senior members of the professions across the UK on a range of issues affecting their businesses.