Law firm survey 2019

Now in its twenty-fifth year, our 2019 law firm survey Has the LLP had its day?, developed in association with The Lawyer, reveals that the increasingly challenging global environment is beginning to take its toll, with a dip in confidence from last year’s all-time high. Retention of talent and investment in cyber-security are today’s top priorities for law firms. It’s notable that 25 years ago neither concern would have featured highly, if at all. The survey was carried out across July and August 2019 and completed by 132 managing partners and senior management personnel from across the UK.

Key findings of our latest law firm survey

Confidence among senior executives is a factor that has been measured over the majority of the last 25 years. Levels of optimism have taken a significant dip this year, in light of the US-China trade wars, tensions in the Gulf, the ongoing Brexit saga and signs of a weakening global and domestic economy.

Alongside lower levels of confidence is continued competitive pressure: from traditional UK firms, US firms and, now recognised as a threat here to stay, the Big 4 accountants. Retention of good people is the number one concern to emerge from the survey, with firms vying to attract the best and brightest minds. It’s not just cyber-security that firms are focusing on in technology investment over the next 12 months with the automation of manual processes and improving the client experience, being a close second and third in terms of priorities.

For the first time the survey asked whether the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) model still best served the needs of the business. There is a clear view that a pure LLP structure may not be the best arrangement to take these organisations forward. This clearly indicates just how much and how rapidly the legal sector has been changing over the last few years.

We also hear from Pam Sayers, a partner in Smith & Williamson’s Professional Practices team, on her reflections of the past 25 years and the changes she has seen first-hand in the legal industry.  

Download full findings

Get in touch


Giles Murphy's Profile Photo

Giles Murphy

Head of Professional Practices

Assurance and accounting
London - 25 Moorgate

Meeting the challenges

The competitive landscape

The competitive landscape

Law firms feel the heat, as international groups and the Big 4 accountants issue a challenge

Changing business structures

Changing business structures

Can the LLP structure cope with the demands of a modern law firm?

The continued dominance of legal technology

The continued dominance of legal technology

The continued dominance of legal technology - Investments in technology continue to dominate law firm budgets and their strategic direction

Is lock-up coming down at last?

Is lock-up coming down at last?

No progress on lock-up? – Improvements in lock-up continue to prove elusive, presenting a key risk for law firms.


Related content


Cookie Settings