Are we about to see a decline in the number of solicitors in law firms?

Are we about to see a decline in the number of solicitors in law firms?

By Simon Goldhill

Traditionally, most solicitors firms employed lots of solicitors, some of whom have eventually ended up as the owners. Until recently, of course, that opportunity was available only to solicitors.

Underneath all of the solicitors came the support staff, but the qualified top layer was undoubtedly the one that really counted, certainly in the eyes of the profession itself. Just look at the pages of the Law Gazette (and better still, the comments on the online Gazette) and you will see the common articulation of those who oppose the liberalisation of the market focused around how solicitors are better/more trustworthy/more professional than non-qualified people because of their training.

My thoughts were drawn to this by the following passage in the SRA’s current consultation on the future of CPD, Training for tomorrow: A new approach to continuing competence:

“There is an important difference between the competence required when an individual starts their career as a solicitor, where it is more possible to identify a common baseline of activities that solicitors should be able to do competently, and continuing competence, where, because of the wide variety of roles and functions that qualified solicitors and regulated entities undertake, it is much more difficult to prescribe specific development needs.”

So the starting point for becoming a solicitor combines four or five years of high-level academics – a degree (law, or non-law followed by the Graduate Diploma in law) and then the Legal Practice course – together with two years of practical training in at least three separate areas of practice. All this does, however

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About the author:

Simon Goldhill is a business builder, strategic planner, and troubleshooter with over 30 years experience of the legal market.

The first 20+ years was as a solicitor at a number of City and Central London commercial firms. In addition to a successful practice as a commercial litigator, he also had senior management roles, including heading departments and setting up a new firm.

He then left practice and co-founded InterResolve, the UK’s first volume mediation business, which he successfully built from concept through to institutional investment.

Simon is now focused on strategic consultancy, working with innovators in the liberalised legal market. His work has included advising major national brands and developing new volume business and operational models for delivering legal services to consumers and SMEs.

 Simon Goldhill Consultancy

Simon Goldhill Consultancy works with innovators, providing strategic consultancy, advice and project work around the newly liberalised legal services market.

Coupled with other major developments in technology, consumer/client engagement and fee structures, this market will see large-scale and disruptive structural changes to how legal services are marketed, delivered, regulated and paid for in the coming years.

Its work has included advising major national brands and developing new volume business and operational models for delivering legal services to consumers and SMEs, in particular where volume and scalability are features.