25 Oct 2013

Asia-Pacific legal market will double by 2017

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I am posting this article on the 159th anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 (see below).

A report by John Grimley*, the editor and publisher of the Asia Law Portal reports the prediction of Alan Hodgart, a London-based consultant to the profession to delegates from around the world attending the Inter-Pacific Bar Association’s (IPBA) 23rd Annual Conference in Seoul. See the full article here.

On the tide of 6-7% growth over the next 7-8 years, demand for legal services in Asia is projected to grow along with it. And this growth will alter the shape and structure of the global legal market, Hodgart predicted.

Hodgart noted that “North America and Western Europe (including UK) ha[d] 69% of the market in 2012 – [which will] fall to 61% by 2017 and will continue falling for some years after that. Asia Pacific will be[come] the second largest regional market –increasing from $109 bill in 2012 to $215 bill in 2017.”

Hodgart outlined these statistics at an IPBA Conference Panel composed of managing partners from law firms in Asia, the US, Europe and the Middle East – the focus of which was opportunities and challenges in the global legal marketplace.

A general consensus among the panelists existed around what are generally acknowledged new market realities facing law firms in a globalized legal market – and the the need to take proactive action to solidify and expand revenue and profit. While Hodgart asserted the new legal marketplace is a radical departure from the past – Mark Leddy, Managing Partner of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Francesco Gianni of Giannia Origni Grippo Capelli Partners in Italy both outlined why they believe the market is in the process of a readjustment and not “turmoil” – as Hodgart stated.

Hodgart contends US firms are at risk due to Asia legal market expansion and their underexposure to this market. He outlined that sustaining competitiveness in the future will require high quality leadership and management, including:

  • High levels of performance in financial, governance and management structures.
  • Implementation of systems to ensure work is done efficiently.
  • The development of very effective, structured and disciplined business development and client relationship programs.
  • Developing appropriate economic structures for each practice group.
  • Articulating and managing a set of acceptable behavioural standards; and
  • Ensuring there is a strong international capability available to clients

Grimley notes that when discussions of law firm competitiveness take place – internal efficiencies tend to take precedence over top-line revenue producing business development initiatives. He surmises that:

“Given the new hyper-competitive realities in the Asia market as well as other market realities law firms now face – the need to establish business development systems that go far beyond the 5 Hodgart applies to current efforts appears self-evident.”

What are Australian barristers doing to share in this growth of the legal market at their doorstep, the world wonders?

* John Grimley is self described as specialised in advising professional services providers from around the world on best practices in domestic and cross-border business development, including law firms, legal practice groups, individual legal practitioners, financial services and governmental relations professionals.