This post has been updated to change the datasets to the last 5 years. This allows us to keep it updated in real time.
The end is now (hopefully) - in sight. Lockdown restrictions are gradually loosening and a return to some sort of normality at last seems to be within reach.
With that, money and people will once again begin to move. What does this mean for law firms? Which services are people looking for? Part of our work at Moore Legal Technology is to track how people use the internet to find legal services. The last few months have been turbulent for a great many reasons, and had a huge impact on society.
How has 2020 affected how people (and how many people) are looking for legal services? The graphs below are dynamically updated in real time to show interest in key search terms related to the most core legal services:
Encouragingly (and possibly because we’re all sick of being stuck at home), conveyancing-related terms have spiked as lockdown has eased. On the 17th of August, Rightmove reported that housing sales are at their "highest level" for more than a decade.
The graph below tracks interest in the search terms "conveyancing" & "conveyancing solicitors" in the last five years. At time of writing, searches have climbed sharply for both terms:
Likewise, searches for "property for sale" have broken what was a smooth upward trend since the end of the financial crisis:
Less happily (but just as predictably) searches for "divorce lawyer" have spiked during lockdown:
Searches for the term have reached their highest level since Google began keeping such records in 2004. Likewise, searches for "Family Lawyer and "Child Custody Lawyer" have also spiked:
Somewhat less predictably, searches for "criminal lawyer" also rose markedly. Quite how people managed to commit crimes while confined to their homes is a question this blog can't answer. The ONS can, however, and their statistics show that there was an 11% fall in crime when comparing March 2019 with March 2020:
This is possibly driven by the fear of Coronavirus-related offences coming into being but without better data, it's hard to say. The key takeaway is that people are still looking for criminal defence lawyers!
Yet another search term which has climbed sharply. More than any other, it has to be said! Financial worries may have driven these searches. And there's the fact anyone watching daytime TV sees endless ads about making a claim!
Understandably, there was a precipitous spike in searches about making a Will as we all contemplated mortality in the face of an infectious disease. Searches for "How to make a Will and "making a Will" both rose sharply and then gradually declined:
Hearteningly, given our worries around mortality, searches for "Probate" crept up, but not anomalously so:
This is a strange one - we might have expected employment-related terms to climb as people began to fear for their jobs. However, it seems as though a combination of factors (the furlough scheme and home working, among them) have kept such searches down - for now. They are still higher than in previous years, but the rise has not been as sharp as in other areas. "Employment lawyers" and "Employment solicitor" have both risen but the "peak" was actually before Covid-19:
Sadly, searches for "redundancy" have also spiked:
Searches for "settlement agreements" have risen but not in a statistically significant way:
There we have it. Despite well-founded fears that work would dry up for law firms, the data seems to point to the fact that people are still seeking out legal services. While we're not out of the woods yet, and the end of the furlough scheme, a "second spike" and an anticipated recession may affect things, there are signs for cautious optimism for now.