Legal Services 2020

Foxtons branch - future of retail legal services? How will the legal services market look in 10 years time?

I’m placing my bets now:

  • Four or five big players dominating the retail market. Some will have a high street presence. Some will be virtual-only operations, serving clients via the Internet and telephone. Most will provide 24-hour service, and there will be an almost exclusive focus on legal products, as opposed to one-to-one consultation and hourly billing used primarily today. There will be a huge range of products at varying price points to suit every pocket.
  • The middle market will be decimated. The midsize, generalist, regional law firms of today will be hit savagely. Most if not all will be gone. Any that do survive will be struggling along, fighting for a diminishing client base of OAPs and technological refusniks.
  • A booming market of boutique law firms – niche players that have found an area in which they can become ‘famous’ as experts, or areas of law too small, or too risky (from a brand and image point of view) that will make the big players avoid them. Some smart firms are starting to head down this path today. Lots more will spring up as many laid-off ex-middle market lawyers use redundancy payments to start their own boutique firm.

Do you agree? One thing is for sure – the future will not be boring!

Twitted by LindaCheungUK - February 16, 2010

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Jason Plant - February 16, 2010

As you say rise in boutique firms is starting to happen and retail just has to go that way doesn't it?

I think the middel market will be the interesting “battleground”, will it be the mid sized firms that get decimated or will some of the mid size firms through being agile out move the larger firms to grab their market?

Mark Bower - February 16, 2010

It's possible they could, but it will take a very entreprenuerial leadership team, and I just don't see that in the midmarket firms right now. Have you seen any leading the way?

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Jon Busby - February 18, 2010

Interesting blog entry. I am not sure what you mean by 'retail.' Are you talking about retail via say Halifax or via a law firm?

I just don't subscribe to the 'virtual only' model…you have to have a drop off for when work becomes more bespoke or the client elects to have that.

Technology allows the choice between online, phone or face to face and/or a mixture of all three as…and this is the important bit…the client chooses.

The drivers are not LSA, ABS etc they are economic and that means harnessing the market and that means delivering what it wants.

I think the mid market may take a big hit but I don't think it will be decimated. Damage will be self inflicted, in other words not responding to change. But the mid market will have a value and will/should position itself as the recipient of work that same firm has attracted by utilising multi engagement models. Where the client relationship begins is now even more important than where it is at. Lots of firms I deal with are building multi engagement 'platforms.'

Boutiques, yes they are happening, mainly in commercial, IP, property etc. But I am reminded of those lines,

“Where do you want to be?”
“Where noone else is yet.”
“But isn't that where everyone is headed?”


View from afar…well Whitley Bay actually. « Legal 2.0 - February 19, 2010

[…] first curiosity was Linda Cheung’s dynamic blog entry ‘Legal 2020.’ It is an interesting insight. Personally I agree on the boutique law firm, (they have already […]

Mark Bower - February 19, 2010

Hi Jon,
By 'retail' I mean the B2C work currently done by high street law firms.

Virtual only operations I believe will find partners to deliver the high cost of delivery face-to-face or bespoke work, and keep the high volume, low cost of delivery, process oriented work for themselves.

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