It is no secret that over the last few years most firms have faced a reduced level of partner profit (or no profit at all), often resulting in decisions to reduce team sizes. Others have found themselves faced with short working hours or pay reductions.
As tax rates rise post-election, along with VAT rates, it is likely that this cycle is not yet at an end.
Given that many firms adopt a time-honoured policy of permanent staff on fixed hours, this decrease in staff is inevitable. The UK Economy may have just enjoyed one of the longest periods of sustained economic growth, but this has been the exception, not the rule. I hope that firms will start to see the benefit of a core permanent team cooperating with a circle of trained flexible staff who help with spikes in workflow. When times are good, using outsourced/contract/consultant staff enables the firm to take advantage of the increasing number of skilled people who prefer flexible working. This actually brings stability to the workplace as fewer permanent staff are put at risk when the market contracts. It also benefits the partners as their profits are protected.
But the result of this contraction is that many solicitors and partners find themselves looking at alternative posts at other firms. The question is, when an offer comes in from another firm, do you jump? Often the answer is an unequivocal “Yes”. Faced with even shorter working at your existing firm, or potentially no position at all, how could the answer be “No”?
My mobile is wonderful!
It is a phone, an MP3 player, a voice recorder, a calendar, a video player and recorder, a web browser, a camera, etc, etc. I have it on contract, but, if purchased over the counter, it costs about £400. Great value as I no longer need an MP3 player, a camcorder, a desktop web browser……..really?
In truth, I have an MP3 player and a camcorder and a desktop computer, as well as the mobile phone. The computer cost three times the price of the phone. The camcorder was a similar price and the camera cost about half as much as the phone. I even have a land-line at home which I pay for monthly.
Why? Well, think about it. For really good, clear pictures of your holiday, are you going to trust your mobile phone or will you buy a camera that is a specialist device? If you were going to leave your children with someone at home all day, would you want a qualified nanny or someone who was “probably OK”?
I have these extra, more expensive gadgets as well as the ubiquitous mobile phone because I am willing to pay for a level of experience (and service) that is higher than any old Tom Dick or Petra can offer, i.e. if I can see added value in the particular product or service.
It is the same with solicitors. Some clients may be happy with an adequate legal adviser. Will they pay top dollar for adequate? No. They will pay top dollar if they believe their problem is serious and needs resolution urgently by an expert in that field.
The Clementi Review of 2004 was simply a set of recommendations which did not have the force of law, so many people did not notice it or paid it little attention. The prescient amongst us suspected it meant that legal firms would have to change—whether for the better or the worse depended on one’s point of view. Even though the implementation of the underlying regulations of The Legal Services Act of 2007 was delayed until 2010/11, and may be delayed again, changes are most definitely afoot. What are the implications of the introduction of “Tesco Law” to the UK? Can legal practices afford to ignore it?
Posted in clementi review, Legal Services Act, Legal System, UK Law
Tagged Alternative Business Structures, barrister, clementi review, law firm, lawyer, legal service, Legal System, solicitor