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More coverage of our latest research

TheLaw Society Gazette reported on our latest research, 'From Robots to Recruitment: Growth Strategies for Law Firms'', picking up on the popularity of lateral and team poaching for growth. 

However, the experts we interviewed highlighted the need for caution with such hires, pointing out the obligations on members of an LLP and the potential to break those obligations when leaving a firm. 

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The Law says Tweet, blog and engage online!

This week is ‘Social Media Week London’, so what better time than now to broaden your foray into social media? If you have been planning to start a blog or open a Twitter account – don’t hesitate, do it today.

Lawyers often ask: what is the point of social media? What benefits does it bring? The simple answer to these questions is one word: engagement. Your clients, potential clients, peers and competitors are creating dialogue and sharing content in this free online sphere. Simply put, you could be missing out on opportunities by not actively engaging and being a part of this huge network.

Social media is an important tool and when used effectively, should underpin and support all of your marketing, business development and public relations initiatives. As an expert, you can use your wealth of experience to create original, fresh content that begins a conversation that perhaps wouldn’t have taken place otherwise. It really can be as simple as sharing an article in a business group on LinkedIn or commenting on a Twitter post from a key client.

Social media can create new opportunities, build your personal profile and increase search engine optimisation. In a world that’s actively moving everything online, from driverless vehicles to the delivery of food, you cannot afford not to be engaged. Plus, who knows, you might even become a social media guru!

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Team Poaching and Tech In – Mergers Out

Investment in IT and team moves represent best prospects for boosting law firm profits 

An exclusive new survey of the top 200 UK law firms shows that leading firms are moving away from merging as a favoured growth strategy because of the perceived financial, reputational and cultural risks associated with failed mergers. Instead, law firms see investing in new technology and team moves as having the best prospects of boosting their profitability.

From Recruitment to Robots: growth strategies for law firms is released today by leading partnership firm, Fox Williams LLP and specialist communications advisers to the legal profession, Byfield Consultancy. The research for the report shows that just 26% of respondents are looking to merge in the next two years. This reflects a significant change from the 2015 report ‘The Dating Game’, which showed 96% of respondents in the top 200 UK law firms forecasted substantial consolidation in the UK legal market in the next two years. These findings mirror activity in the sector this year, with a large number of reported merger talks failing to produce a merger.

This latest research shows that law firms are now taking a different tack. 83% chose increased investment in technology as having the best prospect of increasing a firm’s profits, followed by recruiting a team (71%). Conversely 86% of respondents identified merging as having the greatest risk of reducing profitability when compared with other growth strategies.

Interestingly, the survey ranked opening overseas offices as being the least popular means of increasing a firm’s profitability, with only 8% of respondents agreeing that increasing their international footprint had the best chances of increasing profits.  Although recent media reports featuring top 20 firms opening high-profile offices all over the world has created an impression that international expansion is a dominant part of UK legal growth strategy, our research shows firms are well aware that realising profits from overseas offices can be very challenging.       

Risks to reputation are also front of mind for law firms considering different growth strategies.   63% of managing partners surveyed felt that a failed merger had the highest risk of damaging their firm’s reputation, way ahead of a failed investment in IT or an unsuccessful team move which ranked second and third.               

Tina Williams, Chair and Head of Professional Practices at Fox Williams, says:

Our new research confirms that law firms are looking beyond mergers to realise their ambitions, which reflects the difficulty firms often have in finding a suitable merger partner. Of the alternative growth strategies, investment in technology is seen to have both the greatest potential to increase law firm profitability, but is also regarded as the biggest threat to the profession as we currently know it.”

Other key findings include:

Merger activity

Despite only a quarter of respondents looking to merge in the next two years, respondents who had merged provided positive feedback of their experience:

  • 79% of those who had merged in the last two years have experienced increased instructions from clients
  • 63% of merged firms experienced a boost in combined profitability
  • 53% of the merged firms have experienced better financial stability since merging


  • In response to being asked which variables provide the best prospects for increasing a firm’s profitability, 71% of respondents chose acquiring a team
  • 40% of respondents have invested over £100K in acquiring teams in the last 12 months, a reflection of the perceived benefits
  • 41 respondents considered organisational culture to be a ‘critical’ factor to the success of acquiring a team


  • More than four fifths (83%) of respondents consider investment in technology to represent the best prospects for increasing their firm’s profitability
  • 42% have invested over £100,000 in the last 12 months to commoditise aspects of legal work   
  • 50% see technology as the biggest threat to the profession


  • When asked what would ensure their best prospects of success when establishing an international presence, 60% of firms chose merging
  • Only 8% of the said they would be likely to join a network in the next 12 months, although they were still viewed as a relatively low-risk path to overseas growth

Gus Sellitto, Managing Director of Byfield Consultancy adds:

“Whatever growth strategy a law firm undertakes, it carries some risk to their reputation. And with the legal press, and others, closely scrutinising law firm growth initiatives, law firm leaders increasingly need to be aware of how much reputational risk - as well as financial - each strategy carries. Swimming too far into uncharted waters might be seen as a reputational risk too far, but clearly this report and the interviews we carried out for it show that simply treading water is no longer an option. "


For further information, please contact:

Natalie Cush,  020 7092 3999

Notes on the research

  • The report draws on multiple choice questionnaires sent to the top 200 UK Managing Partners.
  • 76 firms out of the UK top 200 took part in the research, which was carried out between January and June 2016. 
  • 41 respondent firms are ranked in the UK top 100  
  • A number of respondents were subsequently interviewed in-depth about the themes that emerged from the analysis.

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Our new research shows mergers out - tech and team moves in for top 200 UK law firms

This week sees the launch of our latest research on law firm growth strategies, in conjunction with leading partnership law firm, Fox Williams.  From recruitment to Robots: growth strategies for law firms presents original data about the growth strategies currently being used and contemplated by law firm leaders within the UK's top 200 law firms.  It also outlines the perceived risks of those strategies.  

As law firms continue to swim for clear water in an increasingly competitive sea, they will seek to implement strategies that will give them the best chance to achieve growth and stand-out in a crowded market place.  Finding a merger partner could be seen as the most immediate way to achieve those aims. However, this research shows that merging is perceived to carry by far the most risk to a firm's reputation if not implemented successfully, over and above other growth strategies.  And that could be a strong reason why law firms are looking for growth strategies that are less risky to their reputations and brands. 

Whatever growth strategy a law firm undertakes,  it carries some risk to their reputation. And with the legal press, and others, closely scrutinising law firm growth initiatives, law firm leaders increasingly need to be aware of how much reputational risk - as well as financial - each strategy carries.  Swimming too far into uncharted waters might be seen as a reputational risk too far, but clearly this report and the interviews we carried out for it show that simply treading water is no longer an option.  Achieving true differentiation for  law firms is easy to conceive but much harder to successfully implement. As law firm leaders look for growth strategies that will help them acquire that much needed edge, we hope that our latest research will help with their thinking.

If you would like to receive a copy of the research please get in touch.                   

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