Legal update: Number of lawyers at ‘virtual’ law firms continues to rise, reaching record high of 1,909

  • Now over 1,900 lawyers at decentralised legal practices
  • Growth continues despite economic contraction 

The number of lawyers at ‘virtual’ law firms continues to rise, reaching 1,909, up from 1,875 in the last year*.

A ‘virtual’ law firm is a decentralised legal practice that allows lawyers to work remotely. Solicitors are most often categorized as self-employed and use shared services provided by a central hub that manages compliance, accounting, and administrative functions.

Larger law firms in this category include Keystone Law, Gunnercooke and Setfords.

Growth in the sector has been helped by the increase in demand amongst lawyers for flexible working patterns and hybrid working arrangements. COVID-19 has also increased acceptance amongst clients of law firms towards lawyers working entirely from home.

Virtual firms can offer lawyers greater control over their workload, improved work-life balance and the opportunity to retain larger portions of the fees that they bill clients for.

The fact that virtual law firms require less office space means that overheads are considerably lower than those of traditional law firms. Reduced costs mean that firms can offer more competitive rates to their clients.

The opportunity to work remotely has also cut out commuting and given solicitors greater control over their schedules and caseload, helping them to maintain a better work-life balance.

Ian Johnson, Partner, says that this fast-growing subsector is expected to further develop as the world of work continues to embrace flexibility.

Ian Johnson says: “The last decade has seen atypical ways of lawyering, such as freelancing, become much more mainstream.

“COVID-19 has also taught lawyers and clients that work does not need to be done in a traditional office environment.”

“Virtual firms can offer lawyers the potential to have more control over their earnings and their working day, but it is not necessarily the easy option. The business model of virtual law firms does require solicitors to bring a significant and maintainable clientele with them for them to be effective”.

“A lot of lawyers no longer want the long hours that comes with some corporate firms. Other lawyers feel their business getting skills mean they no longer need the support that a large law firm can provide.”

“Virtual law firms are likely to continue to grow in the coming years. For some, it can be a cost-effective business structure that can help lawyers generate more income and give clients high-quality legal service at more affordable rates. However, it is not necessarily the right fit for everybody and there is a lot to be said for the close bonds and camaraderie that form in a more traditional structure. It is merely another option available to lawyers.”

*Year-end October 31,2022

Number of lawyers at virtual law firms reaches record high of 1,909

Our People

Find the Hazlewoods person you need – and get to know our team.

Got a Question?

Find out more about us, and we can find out more about you.