Proxy indicators of demand for legal services

Recognising that the legal services market is comprised of a number of different markets, we have analysed 25 proxy indicators measuring trends in the volume of demand during the past ten years.

These can be accessed via the links below.

  1. Number of transactions in different market segments – Probate, residential, family
  2. Number of transactions in different market segments – Injury and Crime
  3. Number of transactions in different market segments – Employment, Immigration, Civil, IP
  4. Number of transactions in different market segments – Business and Commercial
  5. Number of transactions in different market segments – Business and Commercial 2

These indicators provide a broad coverage across all of the different segments of the legal services market, and are arranged by the main consumer groups, as set out in the market segmentation framework. They represent a mix of measures of wider economic activity that drives incidence of legal need, and actual measures of demand for legal services. These are indicators covering a range of different points in the legal issue resolution process. They are all drawn from regularly published data, provided by government agencies and departments. However they remain proxy indicators of demand as they do not capture three key areas:

  • Changes in how consumers respond to legal problems: A consumer faced with a legal issue can choose to handle that issue alone, for example through litigating without representation, as opposed to seeking legal advice;
  • Changes in the level of cases that settle before court proceedings are issued: Behind each court related measure, it is recognised that there will be a proportion of incidences where legal advisers are used but these disputes never come to court, and this ratio may also be changing over time;
  • Changes in the use of advice for risk management: It is recognised that a significant part of the work of legal advisers will be to support their customers in avoiding legal issues, providing information, complying with new laws, and managing legal risks. For example recent research found that around a quarter of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who were aware of the Bribery Act had sought professional advice, with half of those using a lawyer to ensure compliance with new legal duties. This type of change is not captured here.

Therefore, these are partial indicators of demand, showing trends in an element of each of the main legal services market segments, and must be interpreted alongside other information.
For more information see Part 2 of our Market Evaluation.