Where is demand highest for legal professionals?

2018 saw the legal sector get off to a roaring start. Having enjoyed a phenomenal 8% year on year growth, at least 70% of UK law firms achieved a rise in their average fee income in 2017. Today, the legal sector employs over 306,000 people and contributes around £26bn to the UK economy. As the year unfolds, and legal milestones such as the GDPR come to pass, a sharp rise in demand for legal expertise has grown from British businesses preparing for the future.

Throw Brexit into the mix and legal professionals become even more critical to companies throughout a myriad of sectors seeking guidance in navigating a new landscape. But which are the highest growth industries in need of legal support?

The tech sector

As technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, those at the forefront of the industry need expert assistance in protecting their intellectual property – not to mention adhering to regulations. Furthermore, with rapid advancements in AI and automation coming day by day, the importance of ethics in tech innovation grows increasingly prevalent.

Naturally, players in this industry will face ethical dilemmas that relate directly to what and how they’re creating – for instance, preventing automation from threatening job security. The tech industry is growing faster than regulations can be drafted and agreed upon; an issue that seriously demands expert attention from legal professionals.

Financial services

Financial services has long been a lucrative area for the legal industry, but as the regulatory landscape shifts, firms in this sector must adapt their policies, processes, and communications to reflect the current environment. With both GDPR and MIFID II now in full force, financial service firms will require extra support from their friends in the legal profession to assess the risk landscape and devise a suitable Governance, Risk and Compliance framework that protects their firm from the perils of non-compliance.

Cybersecurity

In 2017, the UK once again experienced an increase in cyber-related crime; a threat that continually evolves, grows and plagues companies in both private and public sector organisations.

Unfortunately, the rising rate cyber-crime incidents show no signs of slowing down. By 2012, the damage from cybercrime is predicted to cost $6 trillion globally. It’s no surprise, then, that businesses are rushing to IT and cyber-security lawyers for much-needed advice.

As well as proactive support, however, those who suffer a network breach will require urgent assistance from legal experts in identifying weaknesses and minimising the damage. While this may not be a positive reason for growth in this area, it certainly can’t be ignored.

Media & entertainment

Since the government unveiled a film industry-style tax break to encourage development to the sector, the UK media & entertainment industry continues to grow year on year. By 2021, experts have estimated its worth will sit comfortably at £72bn. However, just as in Hollywood, the entertainment sector is rife with contractual disputes and the need for negotiation. The legal industry is expected to profit from this growth, with legal professionals becoming increasingly critical to production companies, broadcasters and video game developers alike.

The UK commercial landscape is in a constant state of flux, and predicting the future in the face of political and economic uncertainty will naturally pose more of a challenge for business leaders. In turn, a growing reliance on specialist legal advice will ensure both in-house and private practices get the lion’s share of the annual budget. For legal professionals operating in the commercial sphere, this can only be good news.