Before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the UK legal industry was coming off a bumper year. Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicates that it generated total revenues of £36.8bn in 2019 – its highest on record. But 2020 is likely to be a different story. Looking at the biggest names – the so-called ‘Magic Circle’ – we have already seen the early signs of pandemic strain. Allen & Overy, for example, saw its pre-tax profit drop by a fifth in the year to 30 April, to £690m, with profit per equity partner nudging down by 2 per cent.
In terms of the handful of publicly listed players, we are yet to get a full picture of how well (or badly) they have navigated the turmoil. But by piecing together a first quarter update from DWF (DWF) and the full year numbers from Keystone Law (KEYS), investors might be able to get a measure of what to expect.