Law firms serious about sustaining – never mind building – their businesses should digest the ‘super-survey’ published last week by the Ministry of Justice, Law Society and Legal Services Board. This heavyweight (literally and metaphorically) piece of work offers the deepest insight yet into how practitioners are coping with an unprecedented triple-whammy of liberalisation, economic paralysis and regulatory upheaval.
The report is groundbreaking in its size, scale and scope, with a sample of 2,007 firms – about one in five of all firms in England and Wales.
One might have reasonably intuited some of the core findings, admittedly. It is no surprise that a mass exodus from legal aid is anticipated, for example. But what is perhaps surprising is the extent to which the study confounds the lazy stereotype about solicitors being indifferent business people.
As we teeter on the edge of a triple-dip recession (unlike buses, recessions didn’t used to come in threes), many – most? – firms are making a pretty good go of it. As the LSB’s Chris Kenny points out, a healthy proportion are performing well.
There are many, many statistics in the report that intrigue; not least that which reveals that 6% of firms intend to seek external investment from non-solicitor professionals or companies with the introduction of alternative business structures – yet only 1.5% have thus far done anything about this.
Something to ponder in a week that has seen the emergence of perhaps the most eye-catching ABS venture yet.