Countdown to Change

Time is running out for law firms that have not yet considered the changes they should make to compete with new entrants to the legal market, a leading commentator has suggested.

Speaking at the Law Society’s Law Management Section conference, Stephen Mayson, director of the Legal Services Institute, said that firms need to ‘prepare for a different market’ where much of the traditional law firm model is reinvented.

This will see: non-lawyers replacing qualified lawyers; an increased use of technology, process and standardisation; intermediaries replacing direct contact with clients; and a corporate structure instead of the partnership model.

Mayson said new providers will target high street private client work. He added: ‘The Co-op is already in the market. It’s been here for five years and gone from a standing start to £25m of legal business a year, which puts it 80th in the top-100 firms.’

Mayson told delegates that the progressive thinking had to be matched with progressive action, and warned firms not to leave it too late.

‘If your starting point is to wait and see, you’ll have to use binoculars and a telescope to see where your competitors are. If you’re not already running, you’re running out of time,’ he added.