An Anecdotal Review Of the Legal Market
As always, I try and speak to as many of our clients as I can, to see how they’re doing, and get a feel for the legal market generally.
Here are a few anecdotal reviews collected thoughts from recent meetings.
Residential Conveyancing is “bonkers”, with everybody working in the area busy. We transferred over £1.6b in June, the majority of which related to house sales. No doubt the stamp duty “holidays” have an impact. However, there is a consensus forming that, it’s not just that.
“This is a once in a generation move out of the city”
Speaking to one client he suggested that this is a “once in a generation move out of the city”. Others, while perhaps not quite so eloquent(!), agree. Spurred on by remote working, and a fear of more lockdowns, there is a fundamental shift taking place in people’s thinking about where and how they want to live – and it’s not in a flat in a city.
This will have a significant impact on the future of our city centres, but not just on residential property. As I’ve written about previously, it will have a fundamental impact on office space.
However, there were 2 notes of caution.
First, one of the profession’s regulators said they were concerned over law firms with limited residential conveyancing experience “jumping on the bandwagon”. They are expecting an increase in claims, but also an increase in firms falling foul of the account’s rules. (We can of course help with this! See this recent video from Lockton, the PI Insurance brokers.
Second, one client expressed concern over the sustainability of the lending practices they’re seeing. Lots of people are being approved for mortgages while on furlough. They worry that the “chickens will come home to roost” in the autumn when the scheme is wound up.
“The chickens will come home to roost”
This view was echoed by 2 other clients who specialise in insolvency law. Neither has seen a big jump in work, largely because of government support, and the insolvency moratorium (among others). However, come autumn that will change. They are anticipating a jump in insolvencies. In the words of one:
“Some businesses are no longer sustainable, and just need to go bust”.
One client was planning to start providing insolvency service, specifically for the autumn!
In other news…..
For some, the pandemic has been a catalyst for change. I’ve written about this before, but it remains true – one client reporting that their firm was now completely “paperless”, and of the view that it gave them a significant advantage over their rivals.
Farmers are “loving life” at the moment apparently! While nervous about the “post Brexit settlement”, commodity prices are high (my daughter, a Vet Student, tells me that lamb prices are “through the roof” – I suspect due to her best efforts at reducing their population during her recent work placement!), and so is the price of land… and (a perennial theme) there is lots of money floating about.
Criminal legal aid work (at least in Scotland) is a “disaster”, with multiple continuations and delays and no extra funding to compensate. This has caused several firms to move into residential conveyancing- as mentioned above!
And that’s my anecdotal review of the legal market. As before, this is a small sample size, but there are some interesting views and thoughts to consider.
Author: David Calder, Chairman of Cashroom