Business Direction – The great retrenchment

  • Written By: Marcus Graham
  • Published: Tue, 15 Sep 2020 17:00 GMT

When looking at future business direction, respondents indicate that the legal industry is battening down the hatches for the foreseeable period. This perhaps flies in the face of the broadly confident outlook reported by this year’s firms. Or is maybe a sign that retrenchment is part of a strategy many feel will get them through the economic downturn.

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More than 60% of respondents indicated that their firm is not looking for an M&A or team hire over the next year. This is significantly up from last year’s 35%. It’s a similar story when looking at geographical expansion, with 70% of this year’s pool not looking to expand, up from just under 50% last year.

This would suggest that despite the likely rise in opportunities when it comes to things like distress M&As or picking up unhappy teams, a majority of firms don’t see themselves as being in the position where they’re able to take that risk.

The priority for many firms is instead preparing for the post-lockdown return to work. Undoubtedly necessary, but is this too focused on the short term, potentially missing out on longer term strategies that could transform firms.

Respondents were asked to state to which extent they were planning to invest in various technologies over the next 12 months. The three most common areas for investment really capture the mood of the day, with ‘remote working’, ‘video conferencing software’ and ‘collaboration and communication’ set to see significant investment at 35, 27, and 19% of respondent’s firms respectively.

Cybersecurity ranks in fifth for investment, with 12% anticipating a significant increase in spend. This is either a low estimate or a concerning figure. Experts are predicting that the shift to remote and agile working could lead to an increase in cyber-attacks as internet security becomes more difficult to enforce outside of the traditional office environment.


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By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of publication.

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Marcus Graham

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