Bullish Brighton surely no longer deserves Private Eye’s withering appellation ‘Skidrow-on-Sea’. But perhaps there is a grain of truth in the satirical magazine’s jaundiced outlook on the south-coast resort.

For Brighton tops a new ranking of towns and cities in the United Kingdom where new law firms are most likely to come to grief. Nearly half (47%) of new practices incorporated there between January 2018 and January 2023 have either gone into administration or liquidation, or been dissolved. That is the highest attrition rate in Britain.

And it is not just new practices, a cursory glance at the internet shows. Back in 2019 Brighton lost 250-year-old Howlett Clarke, its oldest-established solicitors firm.

The ranking has been compiled from Companies House data by Northampton- and Birmingham-based Witan Solicitors. But why? Witan’s Qarrar Somji told the Gazette: ‘I became the director of Witan Solicitors just before the pandemic, and a 100% shareholder late last year. This is a position many young lawyers aspire to be in. However, I found that one factor that people tend to overlook when opening a law firm, or any business for that matter, is the location.

‘While large cities like London and Manchester may seem like the ideal locations for new law firms, fierce competition and high rental prices can make it difficult to get clients and keep your business afloat. That is why we wanted to look into the cities with the lowest closure rates for new law firms. Hopefully, our data will make law firm owners rethink their choices.’

Other blackspots for new law firms include Cardiff and London, where 42% and 39% of newly incorporated law firms respectively have disappeared.

So which locations offer the best chances of success? Leicester and Bath appear to be the best bets, both with a five-year attrition rate of just 6%.

County-wise, Yorkshire looks promising at just 14%.

Should God’s Own County appeal, however, avoid Wakefield. Over a third of new practices in the West Riding city did not see their fifth birthday – enough to rank Wakefield fourth-bottom of Witan’s list.

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