The top 5 challenges facing the legal sector in 2020
By Charlie Britten
30 Jan 2020
The new decade has begun with a newly elected government, Brexit imminent and a range of looming issues for the legal sector. But which ones are the biggest?
It is true to say that at any time there will be challenges facing the legal sector. But the start of a decade is always an appropriate time to take stock.
Right now, however, the UK legal sector can hardly fail to be caught up in the atmosphere of change, not least with Brexit and a government now equipped with the majority it needs to push its programme through.
Challenge 1: Political uncertainty
The only political certainties are these outlined above: Brexit is a reality and the government is now bedded in for several years. Some may breathe a sigh of relief at the end of years of argument and political paralysis.
However, Brexit brings new forms of uncertainty:
- What will new political and trade deals with the EU, US and others look like?
- What legal implications might arise from them?
- Will there be, for example, a lot of regulatory alignment to enable Britain to trade successfully with the Single Market?
Another area to look out for will be the fine detail of new points-based immigration policies, not least in terms of the ability to recruit legal staff from abroad.
Challenge 2: Cybercrime
A controversial decision already taken by the government is to involve Chinese telecoms company Huawei in the upcoming roll-out of the G5 network. The US in particular has claimed this poses a security risk.
This reflects a perception that cybercrime is not just the work of malevolent nerds or criminals trying to con people out of their money through phishing.
- There is concern that whole states are active in cyber-crime and cyber espionage
- This is especially true of Iran and Russia.
- According to a survey by legal firm Crowe last year, 43 per cent of firms saw cyber security and online fraud as one of the top three threats to their business.
While firms can take all the best steps based on the latest guidance to maintain security, the reality is that new threats continue to emerge and the battle against online crime will be ongoing.
Challenge 3: Staff retention and skill shortages
The Crowe survey also found 52 per cent of firms saw the retention of key staff as a major challenge. Of course, that is bound to be more of a problem for some firms than others. For those successfully luring talent away from their rivals, this is an opportunity rather than a threat.
Nonetheless, shortages of key skills can always be a significant threat, not least if immigration laws make international recruitment harder.
Challenge 4: Gender
Any law firm of medium size that reaches the point of having 250 employees will have to reveal details of any gender pay gap that exists. As the number of female lawyers catches up with the male total, any gap will be very noticeable.
Addressing this will not be the only challenge, however. With Law Society research in 2017-18 revealing that over two-thirds of law course entrants were female, the trend is clearly in the direction of an industry in which the majority of practitioners will soon be women. Law firms need to be ready for a very significant demographic change.
Challenge 5: New market entrants
Finally, there is the concern that new market entrants could steal custom. This highlights the fact that new technology has made possible the delivery of services in different ways, as well as the need for better marketing.
Indeed, a law firm seeking to do well in 2020 and beyond may take all this into account in their marketing strategies:
- Content marketing could highlight commitments to equal pay and good cyber security
- Using digital services can show your law firm is as modern as any new competitor
- A commitment to flexibility will help deal with new challenges arising from Brexit
What can BeUniqueness do to help?
At BeUniqueness, we know a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing is not the way forward. We can help tailor a solution best suited to you. Moreover, in a changing world we can also help you reshape your marketing strategy to meet new challenges as they emerge.