After a period of growth in recent years, the legal market has been violently interrupted by the health crisis of 2020-2021. Many professionals in the sector have suffered sharp drops in income and fear a permanent closure of their structure. Faced with a slowdown in activity, the legal professions nevertheless have digital tools that enable them to continue their work. Lawyers and notaries are seeing their profession transform and become digital: new methods of communication and action are now at the heart of the profession.
Whether it is to study a case from home, communicate with their clients or make their firm more visible, the Web is now a real means of survival for lawyers. Digital tools offer them the opportunity to modernize their business, but also to be more efficient in a highly competitive market.
Discover now the key figures and trends related to the legal sector over 2021-2022 and the last few years.
Lawyers have a number of specialties and play an essential role in defending their clients in legal proceedings, as well as providing legal advice. As of September 2019, there were nearly 70,000 (69,900) practicing this profession in France.
The profession has undergone a growing evolution over the last ten years:
As of 2009, the profession is mainly carried out by women with 50.5% of female actors, thus exceeding the number of men. In 2019, the profession continues to become more female with nearly 56% of practicing women.
The Paris Bar alone accounts for 42% of the workforce.
As for the distribution of practice modes, employees are in the minority with only 4% practicing under this status in 2019.
The remaining majority is fairly evenly distributed across different modes:
The status of self-employed person emerges slightly victorious from this distribution and indicates a desire to practice law independently.
Lawyers’ incomes vary according to experience, specialty (business law, labour law, etc.) and mode of practice. Because of their longer education, their incomes are generally higher than the national average:
Courts closed, hearings suspended, cases falling behind schedule: the coronavirus crisis has taken its toll on the entire legal sector. If the most prestigious firms have enough funds to face this crisis, it is far from being the case for small structures.
According to Le Figaro, nearly 3,000 law firms are threatened with closure in Paris, i.e. 30% of these structures. And that’s just in the capital…
With a loss of revenue of up to 70%, many firms are struggling to keep their heads above water. This was due to an almost total shutdown during the first containment period. For firms with tight cash flow, these two months of slowdown have caused disastrous losses to their business.
Shortly before the covid crisis, legal recruitment had experienced a favourable trend in the development of the profession.
However, hiring in this sector was also severely impacted in the first half of 2020. Indeed, the publication of job offers dropped considerably in the spring.
September heralds a rather timid recovery for a new school year: around 2,300 offers were published this month; a third less than at the same time in 2019.
Unsurprisingly, the year 2020 as a whole shows a sad picture for the legal market.
Despite this, more flexible containment, more appropriate government measures and greater teleworking efficiency suggest that the legal sector will indeed recover from this crisis.
To enable a return to rapid growth, recruiters will need to be agile and adapt to a forced change in the legal profession.
The transformation of the business is becoming inevitable. It is strongly accelerated by the events of 2020. According to a study published on the website l’Usine digitale, nearly 8 out of 10 lawyers are in favour of a digitally driven evolution of the profession. Indeed, the health crisis risks having a lasting impact on the practice of the profession if alternatives are not implemented.
According to this study:
Even though these actions can be carried out remotely, their purpose is always to practice the profession in a secure environment while gaining in efficiency. Thanks to digital technology, this modernization is indeed very beneficial to customers: information circulates more quickly and this creates an environment of trust.
With this development, the law is becoming more accessible to clients and it is becoming easier to contact a lawyer. An attractive website, for example, encourages customers to call on professionals. Moreover, a regular presence on social networks is an excellent way to attract new prospects and create a relationship of trust with them.
The ultimate goal is to be more responsive to clients, to defend them and to provide them with legal advice in a more timely manner, even instantly.
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused the legal industry to experience a down year, it is also forcing the industry to evolve.
This digitalization presents great opportunities for legal professionals. It will eventually enable them to return to their pre-crisis level of activity, and very probably even exceed it.
Read also our article on the
key figures for lawyers 2020 (in French)
Demographic growth” graph: Conseil National des Barreaux