The thought of setting up a new law firm during a time of recession may sound high risk and cavalier. However global change, even a crisis such as the recent pandemic, provides opportunities as well as challenges. The winners will be those who adapt the quickest and respond to change, rather than resist it.
The motivation of most lawyers, whether they entered the profession to help others, for the career opportunities, intellectual challenges or for financial reward, is often to become a partner and ultimately run their own firm.
Over the past few years, many legal practitioners have been weighing up their options, making initial enquiries and starting to consider what running their own legal practice might look like.
Recessions are well known for motivating people to start up in business. The numbers of new businesses launched in the UK in 2020 during the challenging times of the pandemic outpaced the global average, in what has been described as a ‘wave of entrepreneurialism’. After experiencing such a world altering event that has impacted how we operate both personally and in the workplace, it is no surprise that many professionals are reviewing their career choices.
Here are three reasons why it could be a great time to set up a law firm.
A change in culture
One of the biggest and most documented changes that the pandemic has driven is the switch to remote working and in the years following the start of the pandemic, this has become far more commonplace and often the norm for professionals.
Consumers no longer question conducting video meetings with their service provider and many may well actually prefer this to visiting offices. This means that opening an office to launch a law firm is no longer a necessity, and a client will no longer associate this as part of the firm’s value proposition.
Working virtually offers the opportunity to work with clients from further afield. Using meeting software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams is now second nature, proving that communication and collaboration with clients and colleagues can be much simpler.
There is now a wave of smart start-up firms that have embraced innovation such as video calling, online digital payments, document sharing, e-signatures and document-bundling solutions. It is this digital engagement that prospective clients will now see as essential when choosing who to place future business with.
The first item on any new law firm’s shopping list has changed dramatically in recent years. While it used to be the office lease, printing and copying machines or precedent guides, it is now, unquestionably in my experience, a case management and accounting system (CMS).
The data held within the system ultimately represents the firm’s most valuable assets. With a sophisticated CMS in place, the only technology really needed to start a law firm is a good laptop, a subscription to Office 365 and access to the internet.
With the right practice management solution, new lawyers can digitise all client matter communications, capture time and activities, share and collaborate on documents, bill and invoice in a few simple steps and perform SRA compliant accounting, and more – all for the monthly cost of a romantic meal for two!
Attracting new talent
At a time where we’re seeing legal practitioners reviewing new career opportunities, starting a law firm provides the opportunity to create a business that will appeal to new talented junior lawyers who could become future partners of the firm.
The competition to attract and retain staff is more intense than ever, but through smart use of affordable and effective technology, firms can scale up to meet demand and profit through any unpredictability over the coming years.
Often great things are formed in adversity and no matter how new they are, smaller, more agile businesses can react, adjust quickly and adapt to meet the requirements of a changing environment.
For more information, please visit www.LEAP.co.uk.
Gareth Walker is CEO, LEAP UK.