Law firm survey 2018

The 2018 Smith & Williamson Law Firm Survey, developed in association with The Lawyer, reveals a self-confident profession that sees opportunity amid the current uncertainty. Nevertheless it recognises the need to fight for top talent in a tough marketplace and this, rather than navigating the complexities of Brexit, remains its top priority.

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Key findings of our latest Law Firm Survey

Finding and retaining those talented individuals is becoming more difficult. Not only must law firms contend with traditional rivals, but also with new entrants, such as the Big 4 accountancy firms. At the same time, firms are looking to shore up their businesses with increasing specialisation and geographic expansion. Mergers and acquisitions remain an unpopular choice, with law firms preferring to make selective hires of top performing teams.

The survey found that while technology spending is increasing, it is focused on incremental efficiency improvements rather than business transformation. Artificial intelligence would seem to offer a golden opportunity, but few law firms are exploring its potential.

In the longer-term, the legal profession may need to find more creative solutions to preserve productivity and profit margins in the face of these mounting business pressures. Sustaining competitive edge will become more challenging. Without change, firms face losing clients, reducing fees for those they retain, plus increasing costs for doing so. The legal market will reward those who prove most adaptable.


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Giles Murphy

Head of Professional Practices

Assurance and accounting

Meeting the challenges


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