Britain’s changing demographics will mean a huge shift in demand for legal services, towards managing the wealth and lives of the growing proportion of elderly people in the population, according to a study forecasting legal needs in 2025.
Citizen 2025, a report produced by 11-partner Bristol-based law firm Barcan & Kirby, predicts an ageing population living and working longer, needing enhanced estate planning and employment services. Their children will rent instead of buying property, or buy together with friends.
The report – based on a survey of 2,003 adults by researchers Opinium, and with the help of experts from global consultancy Mercer, south-west mortgage broker Fox Davidson, and Saga Investment Services – said the tax regime would become ever-more complicated, while divorce would continue to rise and the nuclear family decline.
It predicted that a generation of older, economically active workers – which it dubbed “grey go-getters” – would increasingly challenge existing workplace practices and demand flexible working. This could mean more legal work from employers resulted. Barcan’s employment partner, James Bell, said: “Contracts will need to change. While this shift doesn’t need to be a big deal, employers will need to plan for it and ultimately adapt.”
Other legal issues would include the cost of later-life care, said the report, as more retirees started SKI-ing (‘spending the kids’ inheritance’), while a greater number of powers of attorney would be needed as more people suffered dementia in old age. Rising house prices as the population grew, putting pressure on housing, would mean a corresponding growth in the number of different purchasing arrangements, such as friends clubbing together to buy a home.
Meanwhile, rising care home fees could reduce housing mobility, making multi-generational living more common. Equity release could be used increasingly to fund property deposits for the younger generation.
However, the firm’s residential conveyancing partner, Stephen Parker, was bullish about the prospects for competition and law firms in the property sector: “When it comes to legal services, yes, there will be more and more online-only players, but we see little threat from the big profit-driven outfits – such as Tesco – and we don’t see the ‘Uber-isation’ of all legal services by any means.”
Chris Miller, Barcan’s managing partner, was also confident about the future of lawyers: “Relationships between the future generations and lawyers will be different. The younger generation are likely to shop around and are less loyal… [but] I believe there will always be a role for the personal service adviser, although we will need to find new ways of communicating with clients who may want instant responses, whether by social media, or otherwise.”