Can your law firm survive the changing legal ecosystem?

Can your law firm survive the changing legal ecosystem?

By Andrew Neill

Cloud forests are rare expanses of rainforests found all around the world. They are each unique islands of rarity, often superficially similar, but fundamentally different to even their closest neighbours. Evolution has worked to make each mountaintop an island of diversity, separated from other peaks by altitude and rapid changes in climate.

The clouds form only at particular altitudes, and species that specialise at those heights cannot survive without the moisture and coolness which they have adapted to. Mountains with cloud shrouded tops are host to insects, trees, mosses, birds and beasts that cannot venture down the slopes. Like the famous finches on the Galapagos Islands that inspired Darwin, each clouded mountain is surrounded by an impassable barrier.

Now consider the market for traditional law firms. Each has carved out an economic niche; a place in the pecking order with a particular combination of resources, cost, brand, skills, capability, reach and pedigree that meets the particular needs of a specific group of clients – whether that is retired couples on the high street, first-time buyers looking for cheap conveyancing online, government departments looking for cutting edge procurement advice, or an international jet-setter with a family business to restructure.

Each successful firm successfully meets the needs of a group of clients, and less successful firms survive on slimmer pickings. In a healthy, booming economic ecosystem there is generally enough to keep everyone fed.

We are not, however, in a healthy economic ecosystem for traditional legal work. Although there are signs of a wider econo

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About the author:

Andrew Neill is Global Programme Manager at Withersworldwide. He has a background in technical consultancy, with experience in programme portfolio management, scoping, running tenders, and architecting global solutions.