Nearly half top law firms approached by UK practices

Almost half of Ireland’s top law firms have received approaches by a UK law firm in the past year about possible mergers, acquisitions or strategic partnerships, according to a survey.

The Smith & Williamson Survey of Irish Law Firms found 67 per cent of respondents reported increased revenue over the past year, with 62 per cent reporting increased profits.

Almost half of all firms (44 per cent) saw their profits grow by more than 10 per cent and the percentage of regional firms reporting profit growth was significantly up on last year’s survey.

Competition for talent is a growing issue, with 67 per cent of the top 20 firms identifying recruiting and retaining staff as a top concern.

Salary increases outstripped inflation with 63 per cent of all respondents reporting pay increases of more than 3 per cent. Forty per cent reported increases of more than 5 per cent.

Staff retention

For the top 20 firms, the economy, recruitment and retention of staff and Brexit were the main concerns for the next 12 months, while for smaller firms it was maintaining profitability, managing cash flows and pressure on fees.

“We are in a period of uncertainty about Brexit and many firms are concerned about the impact it will have on their business,” said Smith & Williamson managing director Paul Wyse.

Two-thirds of the top 20 firms are executing Brexit strategies and there are also concerns about increased competition from UK firms setting up operations in Ireland, he said.

Cybersecurity issues

Cybersecurity emerged as a major challenge, with 70 per cent of all law firms regarding it as a key technology issue.

Cyber-attacks on the top 20 firms were up 60 per cent, with 61 per cent of such firms reporting cyber-attacks in the last year, up from 34 per cent in 2016.

More than one in three of all law firms reported cyber-attacks this year as against 29 per cent last year, an increase of 23 per cent.

The survey was conducted by Amárach Research during September and October. One hundred and fifteen law firms – large, mid-tier and small – took part in the survey.

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