The results of a survey hosted by a legal publication suggest that while large law companies are growing, smaller firms are not. Asking readers to answer several questions, although the survey was not scientific or extensive, the responses make for interesting reading.
Exploring the confidence level of lawyers based on size of firm came in the form of five key areas:
- The probability that they would hire in the next three months
- Whether their billable hours would grow
- Whether they expected their physical facilities to expand
- Whether they expected increased investment in technology or marketing
- What their confidence in the strength of the legal economy was
On average, it seemed that the larger the firm the more positive the response. In larger firms, there was greater likelihood of technology expansion and of hiring, as well as indication of a growth in billable hours. Smaller firms claimed that the billable hour was more likely to be abandoned in order to remain competitive. Value remained a priority for the smaller firms and was more likely to be the driving force, regardless of billable hour, meaning the growth of the number of hours was not always obvious or measurable.
With clients more focussed on the result and total cost, smaller law firms will be keen to position themselves in the legal market to acquire new business. In the current climate, communication between lawyer and client also needs to clear and reassuring with a focus that value for money will be delivered effectively and efficiently.
Julia Haviland, Managing Director of Brittain, which specialises in business growth and boasts a healthy portfolio of law firms such as Thomas Eggar (now Irwin Mitchell Solicitors) and Berwin Leighton Paisner, said: “Brittain has helped business growth come to fruition for large national and international law firms. More surveys of this kind will inevitably follow and, while the results are not definitive, it is generally agreed that they can identify patterns. I shall be watching with interest.”