Leading London law firms relaxed about Brexit effect

More than 90 per cent of London’s 100 largest law firms think that Brexit will have no significant impact on their profitability or staffing levels.

Research by real estate business CBRE showed that 98 per cent of firms thought that Brexit would have no significant effect on employment levels while 95 per cent of firms thought it would have no significant impact on profitability.

Read more: Brexit is just one of the forces that will shape the City’s future

Seventy per cent of firms have no contingency plan in place to deal with Brexit, 16 per cent do have plans in place and 14 per cent are unsure.

Frances Warner-Lacey, senior director in CBRE’s London advisory & transaction team, said: “Overwhelmingly law firms do not think Brexit will have an impact on their business in London.

“If you took that straw poll 12-18 months ago the outcome would have been different.”

The report also showed a strong take-up of artificial intelligence (AI) technology among law firms with 48 per cent of London firms already using AI technology and 89 per cent currently using it or planning to adopt it in the future.

Read more: UK’s top 100 law firms grew by nearly eight per cent in the last quarter

Forty three to 45 per cent of firms though that increasing uptake of AI would have an impact on the number of employees at junior level, while over 30 per cent said they did not know what the impact would be.

Warner-Lacey said: “It is very difficult to formulate a future-proofed real estate strategy when you are trying to second-guess the structure of the firm going forward.”

The report showed that real estate demand among law firms was relatively weak with office take-up by the legal sector in 2017 21 per cent below the 10-year average of 592,100 square feet (sq ft), although slightly higher than in 2016.

This was despite a strong start to 2017 when magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer pre-let 255,000 sq at 100 Bishopsgate.

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