Brexit to help boost UK competition law demand over next year, study shows

LexisNexis report also predicts sharp decline in corporate law demand

Competition and commercial lawyers in the UK are likely to see their workloads continue to expand over the next year, though the boom in corporate law activity is expected to slow significantly, according to a new report from LexisNexis.

The twice yearly ‘Gross Legal Product’ report predicts that demand for competition law will grow 17% this year and 32% in 2023, while commercial law demand growth will be more steady – edging 1% higher this year and 4% next year. 

LexisNexis said the increased demand for competition lawyers is being driven by the UK’s departure from the EU, the Competition and Markets Authority’s sharpened focus on antitrust enforcement and investment issues around national security and sustainability. 

Commercial lawyers are likely to be kept busy by a rebound in trade activity, foreign investments into the UK and new company formations, LexisNexis said.

By contrast, demand for corporate law-related services is expected to decline heavily this year following a bumper 2021, which was fuelled in part by a record year for M&A activity. With deal-making stalling amid concerns about rising inflation and the prospects of a global recession, LexisNexis predicts demand for corporate legal services will contract by 22% in 2022 before growing marginally by 1% in 2023.

Dylan Brown, content lead at LexisNexis, said: “Today’s economically uncertain times have caused a great deal of unrest in the corporate world. There’s a constant barrage of conflicting reports coming out, and despite everything still being up in the air, the default setting for most businesses right now will be risk aversion.”

He added: “It will be up to lawyers to instil confidence by guiding clients through the months and years ahead with accurate insights on economic activity, new legislation and regulations, and worthwhile growth opportunities.”

The Gross Legal Product index is based on an analysis of almost 300 data points using both direct metrics and indirect proxies.

Meantime in the US, AmLaw 100 firms saw demand growth decline by 0.2% in the first half of the year, according to a Thomson Reuters Institute report published in August. It noted that corporate demand in general was flat, though M&A practice demand declined by 5.3% across the market as a whole.

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