Are small law firms becoming more attractive to professionals? Jon Whittle at LexisNexis discusses

Research conducted by LexisNexis for the Bellwether report series highlighted that small firms are becoming more and more attractive to legal professionals as their chosen employer. The Bellwether report, entitled Is the Future Small?, surveyed solicitors currently working at small law firms, where the majority – two out of three of those surveyed – had previously worked in medium to top-tier firms.

Currently, small firms make up an overwhelming majority of the legal market, with 95% of firms earning under £500k and 50% earning less than £150k. The study found that 44% of respondents said they would consider working for a small firm in the future, with fewer than two in 10 citing that they would choose to work for a large firm. The benefits of small firms were resoundingly clear: a better client experience, workplace efficiency, an agile approach, competitive pricing and the ability to remain in control. 

Many of the positive attributes of small law firms relate to a lawyer’s ability to focus on their work, and their clients, as opposed to being bound by the high levels of bureaucracy typically associated with larger law firms. What is evident is that solicitors who have worked hard to study law have usually shown real commitment to their subject, and a passion for the industry and their area of expertise. Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that so many are attracted to the qualities offered by smaller firms. Swifter decision-making, a greater control of their work, and a single point of contact managing client issues, all invariably affect not only the experience offered to the client, but the potential impact the lawyer can have, and their ability to focus on delivering high-quality law. Interestingly, The Bellwether series research found that, while there are challenges associated with working in smaller firms, there are typically sensible ways to combat these issues…

This article was first published in the September 2019 issue of LPM 'Seeds of change'.

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