Each new firm shows a willingness to step out of a comfort zone.
Who says solicitors aren’t entrepreneurs? Legal sector observers occasionally voice surprise at the tenacity shown by lawyers continuing to practise in the profession’s most financially challenged disciplines. True, as public funding has been cut and civil justice has been reformed there has been attrition, but its scale has fallen short of predictions.
Less often remarked upon is the enthusiasm with which practitioners are launching new firms. The latest statistics reveal that 612 new firms were created in the year to 31 July. That puts the figure as a whole on course to pass the 1,000 mark for 2016, around 200 ahead of new formations last year.
New firms are increasing in all categories – ABS, recognised body and sole practitioner. Their principals are setting up shop aware that: run-off insurance will punish a short-lived venture; the economy is volatile; competition is fierce; and government policy is focused on chipping away at the role of lawyers in resolving disputes and elsewhere.
Each new firm has a business plan reviewed by a sceptical bank, a credible story of risk and prospects told to an insurance broker, and demonstrates a willingness to step out of a comfort zone. Behind the headline figure, then, is an increase in the ranks of solicitor entrepreneurs.
Something worth celebrating.