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It is invariably this time of year that law firms reflect on how good, bad or indifferent they have performed in the previous 12 months. It coincides with the renewal of solicitors’ Indemnity Policies, the payment of practising fees and an array of annual subscriptions to organisations and publications.
The last 2 or 3 years have seen many firms of solicitors disappear the length and breadth of the country, the same as any other business competing in a difficult and depressed market place. The costs of compliance with new regulatory requirements foisted on the legal profession to say nothing of mandatory courses, has escalated beyond all proportion which inevitably means the cost of running a legal practice continues to take its toll with no less than 250 firms of solicitors having ceased business this summer.
Those firms which remain have had to be financially astute, prudent and above all innovative. The legal profession has encountered competition from innumerable sources and with dramatic cuts in the legal aid budget, many highly respected and proficient lawyers have had to retain and/or leave the law completely which in many respects, has been a travesty.
Those firms that remain can look back and review their achievements with some degree of pride and a sense of achievement. They have managed to combat the rigours of an aggressive market place with greater emphasis on cost and less financial return. In many respects, the practice of law has become a vocation rather than financial return.
To some large extent, those firms that continue to exist have “bucked the trend”. They have been successful in managing their business and have found ways of generating income by diversifying and developing more niche areas of law. We as a firm have certainly become far more streamlined and dependant upon systems. Our dedicated and committed personnel have become more integrated and appreciative of the constraints which face the legal profession. Far greater emphasis is nowadays placed on marketing a superior service to the firm’s clients with greater reliance on case management and systems so as to maximise efficiency and provide a ‘fixed fee’ service in many aspects of the law. The culture of the legal profession has changed apace with many lawyers becoming marketeers and more entrepreneurial in their outlook. The service to the client is paramount which in terms of achieving objectives, means attending clients in their workplace or at their homes. By harnessing change and adopting a proactive approach to a new market environment, never before has the expression, “survival of the fittest” been more appropriate.
We at Terry Jones Solicitors and Advocates have adapted to a changing market place. Our various departments have become more specialised and have shown encouraging signs of growth despite the difficulties. It has seen the firm involved in several high profile matters over the last 12 months and are beginning to recruit further specialist lawyers to cater for demand. The signs are encouraging and despite the ever continuing cost of running a legal practice, the signs are significantly more encouraging for those who have survived the ravages of recession than for a very long time.
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