The Law Society has released research to help firms with strategic workforce planning to 2027.

The legal services market will need to adapt to a more deregulated environment, stronger commercial pressures and increasing adoption of technology, the report says.

Key findings

The report projects that by 2027:

  • employment in the legal services sector will fall by 13,000 (4%)
  • legal professionals will comprise 57% of the workforce, and legal associate professionals (such as compliance officers) 15% (compared with 47% and 11% respectively in 2017)
  • there will be around 20 legal professionals per legal secretary, and five legal professionals for every secretary or other office support worker
  • staff with degrees or other higher qualifications will account for more than 99% of the legal professionals workforce.

The sector will need to recruit around 100,000 employees from 2017-2027 (around 10,000 per year). At present, around 3,100 graduates and 3,300 returners enter legal professional roles each year.

Law Society president Simon Davis said: “Employers may need to engage even more with higher education providers to encourage talent into the sector and profession.

“The most prevalent skills gaps (although these gaps are decreasing) are likely to be around problem solving, client handling, and planning and organization.”