A Time of Change

A Time of Change

Last week the Law Society, the Legal Services Board and the Ministry of Justice published the results of a research project into the supply of legal services by solicitors’ firms.

The report – ‘A time of change: solicitors’ firms in England and Wales’ – is the culmination of what claims to be one of the largest ever surveys. Based on a sample of 2,007 firms, the report reveals how solicitors’ firms of all types are performing, in the context of recession, market changes, regulatory developments and legal aid reforms.

The highest percentage of firms flagged compliance with regulations as their main problem (29 per cent), while responding to market competition (23 per cent), adapting to changes in legal aid (23 per cent), and in securing finance (21 per cent) also ranked high. Only six per cent of firms are giving consideration to seeking external investment under ABS provisions.

The most common areas of work are residential property and wills, trusts, probate and estate administration. New firms, those with a majority of female partners, firms with a majority of BAME partners and those doing 50 per cent or more work in crime or immigration reported lower income per fee earner than other firms. 19 per cent of firms in the sample were new within the past three years, 50 per cent of which were single solicitor firms.

Regarding legal aid, the survey reported that 31% of sample firms undertook legal aid work in 2010/11. Over half of these reported that 50% or more of their clients were legally aided, and over a quarter reported that 90% or more of their clients were legally aided. 51% of the firms did civil legal aid work, and 49% criminal legal aid work. Firms undertaking legal aid work were less likely to be located in London, and more likely to be located in the north of England.

The survey also found that 31% of current legal aid firms were considering withdrawing from one or more areas of legal aid work in the next 3 years. This was most significant in the case of firms undertaking family legal aid. Of firms intending to withdraw from legal aid work, almost one-third indicated they had already started to do so. Again, this was most notable in the case of family legal aid. Firms undertaking civil legal aid were more likely than those undertaking criminal legal aid to be considering withdrawing from legal aid.

This report is so packed with statistics that your eyes can glaze over and your brain start to hurt. To find the results that most affect you, go to http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/representation/research-trends/research-publications/baseline-survey-of-solicitor-firms-2012/ and navigate to the full report.

The survey makes very clear that the future for firms of solicitors is not going to get any easier. The need for the very best in case management and supporting services is paramount. We don’t normally use the blog to sell ourselves, but Anya Designs has huge experience in both law firms and business. Our unfair advantage over all other providers is insider knowledge. We are experts in the legal industry, able to geek out with clients, capable of project managing change and with more integrated knowledge about the practice of law in all its forms than anyone else. We would really like to talk to you. Call us on 0845 259 1276 and ask us questions!

This post was written by:

- who has written 460 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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