The Bellwether Report 2013: Survive or Thrive?

The Bellwether Report 2013: Survive or Thrive?

The Bellwether report 2013, Survive or Thrive?, has been published.

The report takes the temperature of independent lawyers, sole practitioners and owner/lawyers in smaller law firms, to see how they are dealing with the current financial, regulatory and legal climate.

LexisNexis commissioned this research because we wanted to gain a thorough understanding of the challenges lawyers in this sector face and to identify what can be done to ensure they do not merely survive but thrive.

It is heartening to discover that despite all the difficulties the firms face, these lawyers still wish to continue running their own businesses and do what they do best: practising the law.

We expected that securing new business and dealing with the economic downturn would be some of the toughest challenges for this sector. What is more disturbing is that something the government can control is getting in the way of a healthy legal sector. Regulation is the one thing that policymakers can do something about. As one solicitor told us, “we don’t have a problem in doing the work; we have a problem in recording what we do”.

Independent lawyers, sole practitioners and owner/lawyers in smaller firms are an important part of the legal landscape. Inevitably change means that high street law won’t look like it did ten years ago. Sadly, some firms will not continue. Dealing with over burdensome regulation should not be one of the reasons they don’t.

Key findings for the future:

■ 60% hope to grow in the next five years. One in three would settle for stability. One-quarter are thinking of outsourcing. One in four is considering merging with another firm.

■ Like sharks, small firms need to keep moving to survive. 80% say “small firms need to constantly evolve” and some report frustration at their firm’s lack of progress. Two-thirds believe small firms must specialise.

■ 60% recognise the need to invest further in a firm’s online presence. 45% of firms are considering increasing their marketing budget. Nearly 70% appreciate the need to network.

■ More than half are considering greater investment in processes and technology. 62% plan to review their information sources, given the developments in platforms and services now available.

Get the report here.

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