Professional practices

Strategies for talent-led businesses including law and accountancy firms, consultancies, patent attorneys, surveyors, actuaries and architects must skillfully weigh opportunity and risk against an increasingly uncertain future.

Professional Practices
Giles Murphy , Partner	- Head of Professional practices
Ambitious or cautious, professional practices need an advisor who understands the complexity and dynamism of their often mature, highly regulated, business environments.
Giles Murphy , Partner - Head of Professional practices

Whether you are ambitious or cautious, your advisor must be focussed, knowledgeable and close to the issues and markets that matter to you.

Aspiring boutiques and mid-market practices have repeatedly benefited from the expertise of our dedicated, multi-disciplinary team. We marry expertise for tackling broad strategic issues with exceptional technical execution on challenges including:

  • Aligning business planning to strategic goals
  • Structuring and restructuring for growth
  • Talent retention and management
  • Succession planning and retirement

How we can help

  • Accounting and assurance: Providing accounting advice and comfort on your firm’s financial reporting.
  • Tax compliance and advice: Preparing and submitting your firm’s and partners’ annual tax returns, along with advising on the tax impact of various transactions and structures.
  • Regulatory: Satisfying regulatory reporting requirements.
  • Funding: Advising on finance options, including optimal partner funding, improving lock-up management and securing external investment.
  • Partnership disputes: Acting as expert witness and mediating on disputes
  • Employee benefits: Retaining talent by enhancing your employee benefits offering.
  • Partners’ finances: A full range of financial planning and investment advice to provide enhanced financial security.
  • Profit sharing: Advising on profit sharing strategies to drive desired behaviours.
  • Incorporation: Assisting with the incorporation of a partnership as a company or LLP.
  • Investigations into rogue partner activities: Assessment of scale of inappropriate behaviours and prevention measures
  • Data identification post cyber attacks: Investigation into impact of hacking activity
  • Administration of insolvent professional practices: Formal appointments and solutions for firms in financial distress
  • M&A: Assisting with mergers and acquisitions, including target due diligence, sources of funding, structuring and post-deal implementation.

Our credentials


Your firm will benefit from a co-ordinated, cross-discipline service from our specialist professional practices team. We have more than 50 partners, directors and staff, providing all-round accounting, tax, business, financial planning and investment advice tailored to your needs.


With experience of more than 100 professional practice clients across the UK, we have the expertise to help steer your management team through your firm’s unique challenges, to enable you to effect change successfully.


Our active involvement with influential trade and industry bodies such as the Association of Partnership Practitioners ensures we are closely connected to the issues and concerns of professional practices and can innovate to address them.

Forward thinking

We seek not just to solve, but anticipate the challenges professional practices face. Our insight programme condenses these issues and shines light on solutions for clients, meeting the challenges together.


Legal Week Top 50

The legal market saw another strong year, with buoyant demand for legal services driving strong revenue and profit growth across the sector.

However, with little improvement in lock-up or cash levels, the sector looked vulnerable as it headed into the COVID-19 crisis.

We delve into the issues affecting the legal industry: why are efficiency gains proving stubbornly hard to achieve? How can the sector address the problem of lock-up and improve its cash position? Is it too late?

We provide in-depth analysis, in association with Legal Week, of law firm LLP accounts for the year 2018-2019. Using recently filed data from Companies House, we look at everything from debt levels to profit margins to partner capital to build robust insight into the health of the legal sector.

Learn more

Legal Week Top 50 1920X1080 Pillar Jun 20

Professional Practices Leaders

Professional practices are contending with an increasingly competitive marketplace for both talent and clients. Leaders must also look at the role for technology and how to create efficiency and productivity.

In our Professional Practice Leaders section, we talk to your peers about how they have handled these and other challenges and the steps they're taking to build the practices of the future.


Clare Maurice

Law firm survey 2019

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.

Quoted Companies


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