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As 2014 draws to a close, Mark Smith, market development director at LexisNexis, looks at how the legal sector has fared over the past year and what to expect in 2015.
What have been the major challenges for large firms in 2014?
2014 has been an interesting year. Towards the back end of the year the amount of activity has picked up.
On the one hand, firms are starting to feel better, become busier and have begun gearing up for growth again. One of the challenges for teams that got very lean during the recession was suddenly they were having to find talent. There are certain practice areas in which the competition for talent is already getting quite hot. In the last few weeks I have heard partners saying that if they see someone they like at interview they need to offer very quickly. Good quality people aren't hanging around.
However, at the same time the genie isn't going back into the bottle insofar as the way that big corporate clients are buying. Over the last five years, they have become a lot more sophisticated. They've driven the prices down through panel reviews, disaggregated work, or just by negotiating harder. The work that firms have been doing to meet these needs is going to carry on regardless.
So there is optimism that things are better and that they are going to continue to get better. But, at the same time, the gravy train is not about to leave the station again.
How have large firms dealt with the challenges thrown at them?
What you have seen in 2014 is firms becoming more sophisticated in their responses to challenges. In the early part of the recession, the obvious quick wins were around cutting waste, restructuring, getting rid of unprofitable prac
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