Traditional partnerships (P2s), managed professional business, and those in between (page 3).
There are too many examples of firms without the financial know-how to deal with the size of their practice. Stronger regulation of the processes involved in handling client money, and further education about the risk management processes needed to deal with the handling of large amounts of their own and others’ money are recommended.
Better knowledge of how insurance works would also be welcome among partners and firms in general. The ABI and its members are ready to participate in long-term work with the legal profession as a whole to deliver training, education and information at every level.
Summarises organisation structures of law firms in England & Wales – drawing on official data (page 26)
Summarises how solicitors firms are structured (LLP, etc) page 5.
Solicitors working flexibly by partnership size and gender
Reports on previous research:
McConville et al., in their seminal study of defence solicitors’ firms, Standing Accused,1994, created a typology of four basic organising frameworks of solicitors’ firms: the classical; the managerial; the political and the routine. They created idealised types whilst acknowledging that the lack of internal mechanisms within firms to ensure uniformity of service means that the firm is more of an umbrella concept under which individual practitioners work.
Classical – conforms to the professional rhetoric and public perception of firms being centred around the solicitor. The solicitor undertakes all work on the client’s behalf, training and educating non-solicitor staff to perform specific delegated tasks. The non-solicitor staff serve the firm for most of their working lives, emphasising the values of loyalty, continuity, stability and service. These firms are found principally in small towns and rural locations.
Managerial – firm pays close attention to efficiency and profitability. Work in these firms is routinised and delegated where possible.
Political – firms are organised around a commitment to their clients, with a highly motivated staff. They support the individual in disputes with the state and act for the poor and socially disadvantaged.
Routine – firms, the vast majority, partners usually know about the overall profitability of the firm, but do not have the time to explore the component parts. Tasks are arranged on the most cost efficient basis, work is usually undertaken by unqualified staff and there is little continuity of representation. There is a lack of stability and cohesion within firms, staff are often ‘poached’ by other local firms
Reports (page 69 – 70) on trend to de-equitise partners – to boost PEP figures.
Report summarises the organisational structure of a classic law firm (focusing on promotion) – albeit in a US context (page 110 – 112).
Report summarises some of the delivery models (i.e. brokerage) by which advice is delivered (page 2).
Report offers an analogy to MDPs – how to regulate an organisation employing multiple professionals? (page 2). Discusses the concept of extended practice. Summarises examples of how this operate (page 5-6) and also various policy documents on them (page 7). advantages and disadvantages summarised (page 9). Conclusions and recommendations pages 12 – 13.
Partnership aspirations & experiences
Paper discussing the meaning of business models in legal services:
Presents business model as having four elements – value creation, resources, investment and returns – page 4
Outlines the various options open to law firms to structure their businesses, pre LSA liberalisation
Magic Circle firms gearing ratios grew substantially between 1970s-1990s. This was driven by expansion of business for City law firms as a result of the growth of international capital markets, and the availability of growing numbers of legal graduates, as a result of the rapid expansion of university law departments. These graduates fed into the base of the articled clerk/assistant/partner pyramid that now developed as the heart of these commercial firms, generating firm growth in a manner absent under earlier institutional form with the partner managing clerk dyad at its core. Page 14 & 15
Between 1990-1995 average partner growth was 33% compared to other City firms of 24%, and assistants increased by 61% as against 36%. Those who thrived did so by actively developing new strands of overseas business. page 17
Recession in the 1990s meant focussing on the future, and as a result magic circle firms moved to a more business like structure with a clearer differentiation between those responsible for management and those engaged in professional practice. Page 18
Partner numbers increased by 59% for the magic circle compared to 21% for the rest, between 1995-2000. Page 20
Legal services within Sheffield council was part of the chief executive’s directorate (page 11).
Increased partner / associate leverage rates, and also rise of salaries partners discussed (page 10 – 12).
General discussion of traditional partnership model compared to incorporate businesses – pages 4 to 15
For in-house lawyers, various reporting lines are discussed in this report.
Discusses business models of firms who do volume PI work – not all use solicitors (page 15).
Article on changing business models:
Considering virtual law firms, distinguishes between: disbursed firms where there is a central site but lawyers work from home or from satellite offices.
Examples include a firm with 10 different commercial practice areas and 85 solicitors, a serviced office with internet-based practice management and case management system which allows for virtual working, a city law firm using legal consultants working from their own workspaces, and a firm of 18 solicitors covering all aspects of family law and spread around England and Wales.
virtual legal services – legal services offered directly form the web e.g. self completing legal documents, such as Direct Law and Everyman Legal.
Law firm networks bring together independent solicitors under one brand – e.g. Lawnet (66 firms established in 1989), The Legal Alliance (two tier membership, exclusive areas based on postcode, established 2009), Quality Solicitors where users fill in an online form and the site matches the user to a firm.
Big Brands who are actively moving into legal services: Halifax through pay as you go online legal forms, backed up with a panel of 6 solicitor firms to provide advice where necessary. Co-operative offering free legal advice to members.
11.2% of solicitors offices have BME majority managerial control, 16.4% of solicitors offices are female majority managed
“until recently law firms In England and in many countries throughout the world could only exist as partnerships in which the owners of the firm were those delivering the services.” (page 11). “Growth in the category of salaried solicitor outstripped expansion in equity partners (senior lawyers), thus leading to growing leverage ratios (the ratio of junior salaried lawyers to senior equity partners)”. “In the 2000s the remarkable expansion of a relatively new employment category: salaried partners. This occurred alongside an unprecedented year on year increase in PEP” (page 12). Suggests this is due to increased reliance on PEP metric of success (page 14) in the legal media. “Consequently, the legal profession endured a monumental shift from a predominantly self-employed to a predominantly employed occupation with associate to equity partner ratios climbing from 1:2 in the mid 80s to 1.8:1 in 2006. These figures look even more impressive if we focus on the largest firms, where such changes have been most pronounced. As indicated by table 3, in 2008 the average leverage ratio for the ten largest English firms was 6.9:1.” (page 18). Debate about “lockstep” (UK) method of remuneration versus “eat what you kill” (US) (page 23).