The challenging future legal and business environment which is widely anticipated will demand a lot more from law firms than providing quality legal advice. This is the view of Ian Robertson, long-standing managing partner of Holding Redlich’s Sydney office, writing in The Australian (apologies; link requires subscription or log-in) recently.
This advice backs up on the findings of a recent survey of Australian managing partners and chief executive officers indicating tighter times ahead – with recruitment levels and profit margins expected to be down over the next five years based on deteriorating business confidence.
For Australasian law firms the writing is on the wall for some or more of the following:
- Better service at lower fees: this is simply because clients have more choices, are more canny and have realised it is increasingly a buyer’s market. Even more challenging is that given market conditions this will be coupled with fewer and smaller transactions and disputes. The only possible exceptions will be in resource–rich states such as Western Australia.
- Fee estimates, fee capping and fixed fees will be the order of the day: on top of this clients will look for real value and will carefully analyse all charges to ensure they are justified.
- Quantitative leverage will be rejected: clients will accept leverage, but only qualitative leverage, in the sense of high calibre, suitable staffing on a team where work is pushed down to the lowest (highly)competent level and charge-out rate.