LexisNexis report reveals 95% of independent lawyers and midsize firms predict ‘rough times’ ahead

The Bellwether Report: Riddle of Perception reveals a disconnect between lawyers’ challenges and the priorities for their firms in 2016.

LONDON, 9 May 2016 – LexisNexis UK (www.lexisnexis.co.uk), a leading provider of content and technology solutions, today announced that 95% of independent lawyers and midsize law firms predict ‘rough times’ ahead. Despite a rise in confidence reported in The Bellwether Report last year, both confidence and performance have dipped back to the levels reported in 2013/14.

The report suggests that the lack of confidence may be due to a distinct mismatch between lawyers’ key challenges and the changes that have been implemented or are planned in the firm. 85% of lawyers agree that client demands are having as big an impact on working practices as regulations, yet only 40% of firms have taken on more staff to meet those demands. Taking on non-fee earners to help develop business/increase efficiency is also quite low on the list, even though a number of the main challenges faced by lawyers lie outside their skillset.

The Bellwether Report argues that clients want value for money: a good service at a fair price – not a cut-rate service at a cut-rate price. Lawyers have yet to fully absorb this distinction between price and value. The research shows that lawyers are three times more likely to rate the ‘value’ they offer as excellent/very good. Conversely, clients are seven-eight times more likely to rate it as average or poor. This difference stems from the fact that the two parties are using very different benchmarks to judge value.

“The recurring theme in this report is the expanding gulf between perception and reality for independent lawyers in a rapidly changing world. Specifically, it is about the growing disconnect between what lawyers value and what is important to their increasingly powerful client base,” commented Jon Whittle, Market Development Director at LexisNexis UK. “The research indicates that independent law firms appreciate the need to constantly change and evolve, but the focus and business skills required to win often fall outside their traditional, professional training, experience and comfort zone of many of those gearing up for the future. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging that the legal profession recognises the challenges it faces. It must now step out of its security blanket and embrace business practices, technology and new ways of working to overcome the issues with which it is confronted. It’s a business imperative.”

The full report is available here: www.lexisnexis.co.uk/bellwether-report.

Click here to view full PDF