An interesting piece in this morning’s FT by Jane Croft, Legal firms set for ‘Tesco law’, based on a recent survey by Smith & Williamson on whether, and to what extent, the top 100 law firms will use the deregulation of the legal services sector to raise external finance.
What is clear from this survey is that the top end of the legal market is preparing to take advantage of the Legal Services Act and, if the rumour mill is to be believed, so too are the external providers – whether Tesco, the AA etc. None of this is surprising.
But what about the “squeezed middle”? (Not mentioned by Smith & Williamson).
In my previous Lawslot Redux post, now six months old, I said that in the hurly-burly of practice it is sometimes difficult to take time out to think about what may be needed. I might also have added that the current economic environment is making fee earning work an imperative (no time for posts).
Yet as Giles Murphy of Smith & Williamson notes,
The provision of legal services will change radically in the next five years with consolidation, external capital, new entrants and mergers with other professions; those who are best prepared will be in a strong position to take advantage.
He is talking about using external finance to develop and grow faster than your rivals. And competitive advantage may be obtained in any number of other ways – but I am not convinced that the profession as a whole has yet come to grips with what the Legal Services Act will actually mean for us day-to-day. It is going to be an interesting run up to October.