The legal profession

The legal profession, like football is a ‘game of two halves’ or as Gareth Bale might soon be saying as he gets to grips with the Spanish language “un juego de dos mitades”.

Law firms are divided between those firms in the premier league otherwise known as the top 100 law firms, based predominantly in London and in our major cities, serving big business and the regional and high street practices mainly serving the public. Jostling for our attention in the recent legal press were two diametrically opposed stories, first, a dire warning about the perfect autumn storm brewing up for smaller practices, where professional indemnity renewal premiums could prove the final straw for their cash flow, leading to the collapse of the smaller law firm (with a third of smaller firms in the ‘danger zone’) and secondly, reports of a review of the increasing profits for last year at the top 100 law firms who netted £19.1 billion. The highest paid equity partners received £2.55 million each with firms posting increased average profits per equity partner by 8 per cent.  Other niche firms posted revenue growth of 21 per cent. Not quite as impressive as Mr Bale’s new income, but then we cannot all be footballers!

Rather worryingly some smaller firms do not realise that they have a problem until it is too late to sort things out. A toxic mix of the economic down turn,  partners withdrawing all of the profit from their businesses, banks becoming less likely to say yes to over drafts and the insurance market becoming ever more jittery could result in significant numbers of law firm failures.

In my view, a successful law firm in Plymouth has to be robust in the market place, it requires both effective business management and sticking to core values in serving clients. In the Wolferstans’ commercial team, our clients are at the heart of all that we do, there is a difference between understanding your client’s business and being, as we aim to be, in the privileged position of a trusted adviser, rather than treating each client matter as a ‘transaction file’ in isolation.  The majority of our work is repeat business and recommendation. We ask our clients what they think of our services and make changes where needed. We streamlined our management processes some years ago to ensure that decisions can be made quickly so that we can adapt to changes in the legal landscape and be confident, although never complacent, that we will be serving our clients for many years into the future.

Clare MagillPartner and Head of Business Services01752


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