More than 40% of small firm owners say their business is growing as the legal profession shows signs of optimism.

The LexisNexis bellwether report 2014 found one in four independent practitioners is feeling ‘very confident’ about the future, while 82% described themselves as growing or stable. Interviews with 170 sole practitioners found confidence has doubled since the same poll in 2013.

Many had put more money into their business in the past 12 months: 39% had invested in website development; and 34% had increased their investment in technology. Most were happy to remain independent, with just 7% saying they would rather work for a larger firm.

The report also highlighted a growing sense that the independent sector is willing to innovate and evolve in order to grow business.

Around half of those questioned describe themselves as ‘entrepreneurial’ and are keen to expand, while 68% enjoy the business management element of their role.

Many firms are exploring alternative business models, with one in three considering a future merger and more than two-thirds having made major structural changes with a view to a long-term strategy.

Speaking at a recent roundtable event to discuss the report, Essex lawyer Sukhjit Ahluwalia, incoming vice-chair of the Sole Practitioners Group, said: ‘New layers coming through realise success means not just being good at law, it is about being good at business.’