UK legal services revenue uptick boosts economy and strengthens global influence

12 December 2023

Revenue generated by the UK’s legal services sector increased by 5.6% in 2022 to £43.7bn, underlining the strength and reputation of the UK as a world-leading centre for international legal services and dispute resolution, according to TheCityUK’s latest research. 

The report, ‘Legal excellence, internationally renowned: UK legal services 2023’, shows that the majority of this revenue was generated by the top 100 UK law firms, who together netted more than £33.7bn in 2022/23 – up 8% on the previous year. The sector also makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, contributing £34bn – or 1.6% - of gross value added in 2022, and employing 368,000 people right across the country, including in centres such as Manchester (13,000), Leeds (11,000), Birmingham (10,000) and Edinburgh and Glasgow (6,000).  

The report also reinforces the international prestige of English common law, which is the most widely used legal system globally. The UK also remains the world-leading centre for international dispute resolution and continues to strengthen its credentials as a global hub for legal services innovation. The UK hosts 43% of all LawTech startups in Europe, employing 7,100 people (according to 2020 data), with projections indicating that the sector will employ 15,000 people by 2026. 

Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK, said: The UK’s legal services sector remains a vital national asset, contributing to the economy and supporting employment in every region and nation in the UK. As this report shows, the UK’s unique position is underpinned by the global reach of English law, the UK legal sector’s reputation for excellence and its status as a jurisdiction of choice for international dispute resolution. The continued success of the sector is crucial for maintaining the UK’s status as a leading international financial centre. 

“However, we cannot take this success for granted. To maintain its global pre-eminence in legal services, the UK’s reputation for the rule of law must be protected and enhanced. To foster job creation and drive economic growth across the country, the UK must support innovation in legal services, particularly within the exciting and fast-growing LawTech sector. The legal services sector is not just a national asset. It also is an integral part of the financial and related professional services ecosystem that places the UK at the heart of global business.” 

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk KC, said: “TheCityUK’s annual report once again highlights the extraordinary success of the UK’s legal sector and the vital contribution it makes to our economy, creating jobs and driving social mobility.  

“We don’t take these achievements for granted and will continue to promote English and Welsh law, and the UK’s legal sector, around the world at every opportunity.”    

Reinforcing its global appeal, the report also reveals that the UK is home to over 200 international law firms, with the world’s top 40 global law all having offices in the country and seven of the top 20 revenue-generating law firms have their main operating base here.  

Overall, the sector’s significant economic contribution, its globally renowned expertise and continued development of LawTech, the UK is well positioned for future growth. Other key facts about UK legal services in 2022/23 highlighted in the report include: 

  • More than one-third (37%) of the UK’s legal services market revenue is made up by corporate, insolvency and banking areas.  
  • The UK’s Alternative Legal Service Provider market increased to $20.6bn in 2023, up from $13.9bn in 2019, while 28,639 disputes were solved via Alternative Dispute Resolution this year.  
  • The UK’s Commercial Court system is used by parties from 78 countries, issuing 885 claims in 2022/23, up from 702 the previous year.  

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