Two thirds of law firms are reporting turnover and profits below pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report by professional services and wealth management firm Smith & Williamson.

Its 10th annual survey of law firms in Ireland shows that while things are improving for the sector, Covid-19 is still impacting firms.

The research reveals that almost half of law firms continued to avail of Government supports during 2021, down from 70% of firms last year.

Of the top 20 law firms, 47% were using Government supports this year - down from 60% last year.

Meanwhile, one in three regional law firms said that staff members were on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment in the last year, down from 50% in 2020.

In terms of tax, 29% of firms used tax warehousing and deferral of tax payments this year, down from 43% the previous year.

Recruitment and retention of staff

The research also reveals that the recruitment and retention of staff is a big issue for the top 20 firms, and the vast majority of Dublin firms.

One in three firms increased staff numbers over the last twelve months, whereas 23% reduced staff numbers.

Most of the top 20 firms said they are facilitating remote working going forward, but around one in three regional firms and one in five smaller Dublin firms said they are unlikely to do so.

"In terms of talent management, we are seeing a great shift in control from company to employee, as employees re-examine their work life balance and their working arrangements," said Paul Wyse, Managing Director of Professional Services at Smith & Williamson.

Cybersecurity

The report reveals the transition to remote work has also seen an impact on cybersecurity and management of risk.

60% of the top 20 firms said they experienced cyber-attacks on their systems this year.

However, the issue doesn't seem to be impacting all firms, with 62% of smaller firms in Dublin and 74% of regional firms not reporting any such activity.