Solicitors leaving larger practices to work in smaller firms has increased from 53 percent in 2016 to 64 percent in 2019, says the Bellwether report titled, ‘Is the Future Small?’.
The report highlights that not only is the small law firm sector thriving, the future also looks bright for this segment. Size of a firm is an important consideration for solicitors as it dictates everything from hiring practices and workloads to workplace culture and profitability. At 44 percent, the majority of solicitors surveyed would consider working for a small or solo outfit (firms with less than 20 fee earners) in their next role. Medium-sized firms were also in consideration, with 42% of those surveyed expressing interest. Less than 2 in 10 want to work for a large firm. Also, 9 out of 10 solicitors considered the benefits of working in a small firm to be generally ‘advantageous’, citing the ability to remain in control (82 percent), a better client experience (79 percent), and swift decision making (76 percent) as the major benefits, among others.
At the same time, solicitors recognise that there are challenges and downsides to being small. 3 in 4 solicitors feel that their small firm size could be perceived by some clients as lacking in credibility. 82 percent of solicitors in small firms worry that a lack of capacity could force them to turn good work away. A quarter of solicitors believe that building a pipeline of future business is difficult and hence a major issue. Other issues cited include it’s hard to succession plan as clients are ‘buying’ them personally (51 percent); and increasing compliance regulations (51 percent). Jon Whittle, market development director, LexisNexis UK, said “The future is certainly bright for small firms and an overwhelming number of solicitors working in these organisations believe that small law is better, from both personal and professional standpoints. While small law firms believe the benefits of their size outweigh the challenges, these organisations aren’t dismissive of the challenges they face, which is a good thing. Their combination of realism, confidence and optimism will likely help them to continue to thrive.”