How smaller firms can learn from 'Big Law' and navigate through legal choppy waters

How smaller firms can learn from 'Big Law' and navigate through legal choppy waters

In the wake of our annual Bellwether report launching Paul Caddy considers how independent law firms can change course to become more successful and what lessons can be learnt from looking to the larger firms for ideas.

Have you ever tried to turn a supertanker? It’s not easy.

In fact, it’s so tricky, many tanker owners have to train their captains by making them pilot a tiny replica of a super tanker around a small lake in the Netherlands, while lots of boffins with damp feet and clipboards look on with furrowed brows.

It made me wonder: is there an equivalent training scheme for smaller law firms, with lawyers sat on tiny chairs in front of tiny desks in tiny offices? Perhaps, on occasions, a legal guru is brought in to bombard them with a barrage of pretend management problems (from their tiny replica desk)?

Perhaps not.

So, in a world where speed is king, how do independent law firms change tack quickly without everything falling overboard?

One solution is to look to 'Big Law'. The UK is HQ to many of the largest and most successful law firms in the world. Over the years many of these organisations have become adept at manoeuvring themselves effectively through choppy waters despite their super tanker size. There is much that smaller firms can learn from them. If inertia is no excuse for a larger firm, it certainly ought not to be for smaller firms.

The LexisNexis report The Art of Success: Why Independent Law firms are thriving shows why this shouldn’t come as a surprise: 75% of the lawyers in the independent firms that LexisNexis spoke to have worked at larger fi

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About the author:
Paul Caddy is a highly experienced lawyer and legal writer specialising in commercial law and information law. He qualified in 2000 at Osborne Clarke and subsequently moved to Laytons where he undertook a broad spectrum of work in commercial law. His experience also includes large projects work where he helped to set up the North West Fund, the largest venture capital fund of its kind in the UK and one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe.