Responding to recent insight that claims 75 per cent of the current UK’s top-200 firms may disappear in the next five years, David Beech, CEO of Knights Professionals Services shares his views on why the landscape of the legal world is changing more than ever.
Imagine spending years studying to qualify as a lawyer in your chosen field before securing a job at a traditional law firm that doesn’t have your best interests at heart. A large number of equity partners hoping to recover a stake of their financial investment, following retirement are the people at the top making decisions about the organisation and excessive support staff means that it’s not running as effectively as it could be.
Equally, it isn’t looking so rosy for those equity partners who have spent more than 20 or 30 years forging a successful legal career and have a vested interest in the business. Of course they are going to be fearful to invest in technology and make major changes if that means their stake will be compromised at retirement.
Never before has there been such an unprecedented difference in the career aspirations and expectations of newcomers to the legal profession and those who have long-standing and successful legal careers.
It was recently reported that the sector is becoming more fragmented and the mid-tier regional firms sitting within the top 200 UK law firms could cease to exist in years to come, with up to 75 per cent being lost to mergers or acquisitions.
That’s no surprise to Knights. We are completing our second acquisition, which has seen Knights grow into a £40m turnover business with more than 400 professionals.
The motivations behind most law firms are partner income and ego, and very few operate with a commercially focused strategy. Becoming an ABS (Alternative Business Structure) firm and setting up a corporate management structure has enabled us to focus on sustained expansion. We have sufficient capital and a management structure to make commercial decisions quickly in the interests of our clients, employees and the business as a whole.
There is a fear in the legal sector that removing the partnership model will hinder career progression or the ability to attract top talent. This is simply not the case.A firm like Knights needs capital to succeed and we’ve proved that the model is a success and, as such, are attracting some of the best lawyers in the country with expertise in real niche areas such as franchising, management consultancy and town planning.
Knights has always had ambitious plans to grow and we are extremely open about our offering to potential employees. After opening an additional regional office in Derbyshire six months ago we’ve recruited more than 20 partners from well-established firms in the Midlands, who have actively chosen to make the move from traditional firms
Now the fastest-growing commercial law firm in the UK, Knights is already looking forward at the next move to keep growing and keep up with the changing market.
Clients are getting much savvier now too. They know what they want and they want someone who understands their business, the issues they are facing and a trusted expert to offer the guidance and advice they need. And ultimately they want more for less- which simply cannot be offered effectively through the traditional partnership model.
Creating a sustainable business model is at the heart of the decision-making at Knights. This creates a positive culture where experts work hard for their personal benefit and that of the firm – this means that we’re attracting the best talent in the market right now.
We’ve already got an incredibly long-standing history. Knights was established in 1759 and we’ve got plans to continue for many years to come and if that means we’re one of the few legal firms left in the sector, so be it.