It’s been another tough few weeks for the UK’s 10,000 law firms in the £25bn legal sector. The Coalition Government mounted an attack on the “compensation culture”, there are reforms proposed to the Family Court system with the proposal of mandatory mediation in cases with children and the unknown impact on Legal Aid and the Justice System generally from today’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Legal Services Act deregulation of will writing and conveyancing work looms in January 2011 and there are countless seminars around the country looking at the potential impact of the ABS (Alternative Business Structures). Fears of “Tesco law” are starting to crystallise with news that the Co-Operative Legal Services has grown its legal team from four to over 300 lawyers on the strength of its brand in the market.
And it’s not just the smaller firms feeling the pain. New research today by Hildebrandt Baker Robbins shows inhouse lawyers/counsel globally are spending 6% less on legal fees – 14% less globally on non litigation services.
Another recent research report shows that a fifth of 121 law firms recently interviewed would consider a floatation to attract external funding and 43% would consider private equity. An early indication of private equity interest came in January when Capital Group agreed a £440m buy-out of CPA Global, a patent and legal services group that has won contracts to outsource law work from large corporates.
With January just a few short months away, the apparently forgotten words of that great lawyer, Abraham Lincoln from 1850 spring to mind: “The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today”. Or perhaps we should consider the Swedish proverb "Rough waters are truer tests of leadership. In calm water every ship has a good captain."
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