The report in the influential journal The Lawyer said Leeds had taken a harder knock from the slump than its regional peers.
Although Leeds remains a major legal centre, figures collected by The Lawyer indicated that the biggest firms have reduced their headcounts here.
Earlier this year, Des Hudson, the chief executive of The Law Society, said that he believed Manchester had overtaken Leeds as the fastest growing legal centre outside London.
His claims were questioned by Leeds-based lawyers, who highlighted the fact that a number of major Manchester-based law firms have collapsed in recent years.
According to figures compiled by the Law Society, there were 3,028 solicitors employed in Leeds in November last year, compared with 4,627 in Manchester and 3,514 in Birmingham.
Leeds & Partners chief executive Lurene Joseph said firms in Leeds and the wider region are well-placed to bring work in.
She added: “Leeds firms have the commercial know-how and technical legal capability to work on big-ticket global assignments, offering a high-quality, nearshore alternative to London that not only delivers efficiency but also enables firms to create value.”
Supporters of Leeds’ legal sector believe that, instead of focusing on headcount, analysts should look at the quality and global breadth of the work carried out in the city.
In recent years, a number of law firms, including Gateley, Ward Hadaway and Bond Dickinson, have established operations in Leeds.
Tim Collins, of the Leeds-based Tim Collins Consultancy – Liberation Management, said the Leeds legal sector could improve its performance by harnessing new technologies and ways of working.
According to Mr Collins, Leeds’ legal firms should invest in the culture and life of the city to help make it a great place to work and live.
He added: “They should collaborate with local rivals, other businesses and communities to promote positive Yorkshire values of openness, trust and hon- esty.”