Andrew Allen looks at how the debt profile of many law firms has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, how this has affected the…
PKF Francis Clark’s specialist legal team advise over 100 law firms across the UK from sole practitioners to some of the UK’s largest law firms.
LawNet is the national network of independent, medium sized law firms where members access collective purchasing, best practice and knowledge sharing. It was created in 1989 to set new standards in legal services. The group now represents 70 independent law firms in the UK and Ireland.
Each year LawNet firms take part in an annual financial benchmarking survey, which PKF Francis Clark has undertaken since 2015. The questionnaire asked members a range of questions in various areas including financial performance, people structure, financing and practice management issues.
The benchmarking survey, which saw a 29% uplift in participation last year, provides vital financial and management information, enabling firms to compare their own performance over the years with other similar firms in LawNet , It also provides insight into the financial health of the UK legal sector as a whole.
The questionnaire completed by members of LawNet from July to September 2018 asked members a range of questions in various areas including financial performance, people structure, financing and practice management issues. Survey participants were also asked to comment on the ‘greatest challenges for the future’ in their respective firms and asked to rank their 3 choices in order of greatest significance.
The issue of recruitment was the first choice with 23% of respondents claiming this was their most pressing challenge. The responses for the second and third largest challenges were efficiency and process taking the second place with data management (practice management systems / client data) and partner performance management coming third.
Andrew Allen Head of Legal Sector Team at PKF Francis Clark said:
“The report is an important one as it allows LawNet firms to look at the trends and our suggestions contained therein to ensure that decision making is not only based on reliable data but improves future financial strategic thinking and planning.
“The underlying message from the survey in 2018 is clear; firms are most concerned about attracting and retaining people resources to deliver services to clients and also the operational effectiveness on a day to day basis in delivering services. In addition to the above factors we also commonly see concerns about future income streams and succession featuring significantly as discussion areas with law firms.”
Chris Marston, Chief Executive at LawNet went on to say:
“Benchmarking is not just about knowing what’s happening today; the long-term value is in how it focuses attention and drives action in key areas, such as reducing lock up, where we’ve seen impressive progress across our member firms in recent years.”
“The unique perspective that comes through PKF FC’s specialist law firm division means they know how to focus the surveying on getting to the heart of what is needed to help deliver future performance improvement. And because they conduct similar surveys with law firms across the country, this gives our members the benefit of wider benchmarking against the rest of the market as well as performance against their peers within the network.”