Halliwells are not the only casualty
As the Twitterers and commentators of the legal press speculate about the reasons behind the sad demise of Halliwells (see The Lawyer, the Law Society’s Gazette and Legal Week to name but three) spare a thought for the unsung victims of the current legal climate – the small firms who are simply dissolving gradually in the waters of recession.
Firms of solicitors and licensed conveyancers the length and breadth of the country are struggling with reducing incomes, rising overheads and fickle clients. There are those who would have us believe that things are not as bad as they seem and that new firms are being formed at a rate to make up for the loss of those who are disappearing from the results of the recession.
What this does not take account of are the hundreds of firms who are currently struggling to stay alive. Profits are down, partner’s drawings are at an all time low and many partners are putting money back into firms to stave off the inevitable in the hope that the market will pick up.
Firms have got to become alive to the problems which currently beset the profession and which could, if and when ABS take off, become even greater.
They have got to become leaner and meaner in the way in which they manage themselves; unnecessary expenditure has got to be stopped; the profitability of work has got to be addressed; new ways of getting to market have got to be found; clients must be better looked after so that they will not be encouraged to look elsewhere for representation; transparent and client-friendly methods for charging have to be pursued; most importantly staff, and partners, have got to be made conscious of the fact that employment or partnership is not a right – it is a privilege to be earned.
Halliwells will not be the last casualty – not even the last big one. However, all firms should be looking closely at their own businesses and taking immediate steps to ensure that it is not they who become the next statistic. It is just as important as fee-earning.