Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Firms are just not getting it!

First off, there are 2 big events on the UK legal horizon. The first is the much trumpeted Alternative Business Structures (ABS)n which broadly unshackle firms from having to be formed as a partnership of solicitors. The LLP structure started this but ABS takes it to a whole new level and might see firms listing. 

The next thing is Lord Justice Jackson's cost reforms which to my mind seem to be trying to make costs rules for litigation in England and Wales much more American, with contingency fees, lawyers carrying risk and client's carrying risk in so far as they have to take out insurance to cover the costs of the otherside should they lose. At the moment that insurance premium is recoverable from the other side assuming it is acquired at a reasonable market rate. 

I've skipped over this and simplified massively but the point is that even if ABS does not have the huge impact many academics well out of the actual profession expect, the new cost rules probably will (in whatever form they are ultimately implemented). 

Into all this 'making it easier to start a law firm' and 'making litigations cheaper and thus easier to start' environment we have a new fashion of firms publishing assistants and associates billed hours (here, here). On the face of it a bit of a draconian way of boosting productivity and certainly cheaper than buying a case management system that actually works (if such a thing even exists?!). 

But management are missing the point. Instead of giving assistants more stick to bill (and inevitably pad out bills) partners should be focusing on assessing and judging assistants by client service. It's a no brainer (and something the 4 Hullsmen of the Apocalypse bang on about constantly). The market is going to get more competitive, Fee income probably is going to shrink on a case by case basis as a result (honestly, is every single hour you work for the client worth £700? even the one where you are looking over a senior associate's letter to the OS telling the to get fcuked?) and the firms that survive are not going to be the ones over charging the client so that they can keep up in the city rankings, it's going to be the ones that can win and hold clients. It's that fcuking simple, it really is. 


  1. Hey Insurance is designed to protect against catastrophic disasters. A basic rule of Life insurance over 50. If you can pay in case of loss or damage without financial difficulties while paying otherwise expect your insurance premium to eventually rise.

  2. Hello automated insurance bot, I would dearly like to take you up on you over 50s life insurance, sadly I am from Glasgow and it is well known that the mortality rate amoung fiesty Glaswegians is depressingly high, thus I can really only expect to live to 40 making your insurance rather redundant in my case.

  3. We Are Honored, my old friend. And firms run by lawyers "thinking-like lawyers" are firms that are not likely to change.