We already know that Brexit, in whatever form, is likely to result in a slowdown in the legal services market. The Law Society estimates that the long-term result will be slower growth for the legal sector – down to 2.2 per cent per annum between 2019-2025 in the event of a ‘soft’ Brexit and 1.5 per cent if a ‘Canada-style’ deal is agreed. But this presents opportunities for UK law firms, as well as challenges. Have you ever considered expanding into a jurisdiction outside Europe? The Law Society offers some guidance on how to make this work for your firm.
Whether a firm establishes a permanent presence in a new jurisdiction, serves it remotely from their home office, or builds access through partnerships with local incumbents, market entry is an inherently expensive and risky process, particularly for smaller law firms whose financial and human capital may be constrained. Your firm will need to centre its strategy for export expansion on a thorough analysis of the business case for entering a given region. While this must be informed by the specifics of your firm’s profile and the type of law practiced, they believe that there are four overriding criteria that can help you determine the attractiveness of a prospective export market for legal services:
growth rate of the target market’s legal services sector and of the wider economy
current market saturation (what is the scale of current local and international presence relative to the total potential size of the market?)
restrictiveness towards imports of legal services
extent of the difference between law practiced in target nation and the UK.
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