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A quick guide to market information

By Laura Holloway on 5 May 2015

A quick guide to market information

On a mission...

Where can I find statistics about how the housing market has changed, or the latest figures on the value of the legal services market? These are the type of questions I’ve been asking myself over the last few weeks, as I search for the best sources of contextual data for the next SRA Risk Outlook. 

Shared benefit

Getting an accurate picture of the economy and how this could influence the legal services market is a time consuming job, and I concluded that there must be others working in the legal sector who could benefit from a whistle-stop tour of sources for useful market information. Awareness of the market you operate in can be pretty useful in business planning and risk management.

State of the nation

First up is some general information on how the UK economy is performing. Rather than reading the views of the financial columnists, I advise first taking a look at the offerings of the Office for National Statistics, such as their House Price Index, Labour Market Statistics and Economic Review. These sources give key figures like average house prices, unemployment, GDP and average household expenditure. Tracking these things over time gives a good overview of how the UK economy is performing.

Using this information to manage risk in a law firm is about understanding how the economic climate might change, and planning for the future accordingly. For example, inflation is currently very low, as are interest rates, but will this always be the case? The Bank of England’s inflation reports can give you an insight into what’s driving low inflation and what might cause it to change.

The legal context

Once I’ve read the latest on the economy, I look at whether the general trends are being reflected in the legal market. For example, did you know there are now nearly 1500 more practising solicitors than there were this time last year? Our regulated population statistics give the latest trends in solicitor numbers.

Other evidence of economic recovery in the legal services market can be found in the Law Society’s Annual PII survey, which shows a snapshot of a calming professional indemnity market, and MergerLine UK, which tracks law firm mergers to help us understand how the market is consolidating.

Just the tip of the iceberg

There’s obviously much more about the economics of the market out there to find, and that’s before we even start talking about trends in consumer behaviour and expectations. However, I hope this blog proves a useful starting point for anyone with an interest in exploring market information, and whets your appetite for our profile of drivers of risks in the next Outlook!

Laura Holloway is a Risk Analyst at the Solicitors Regulation Authority.