A survey of the country’s legal profession suggests that regional law firms are out-performing their City colleagues.
The annual Law Firm Benchmarking Survey undertaken by audit, tax and advisory firm Crowe Clark Whitehill, suggests that one third of regional firms experienced growth of more than 10%, compared to just over a quarter (27%) of City firms.
Simon Warne, Tax partner for Crowe in Kent, said: “This important snapshot shows that, despite increasing market competition, regional law firms have experienced faster growth than those in the City.
“The challenge, especially for those close to London, is how to maintain growth against the backdrop of Brexit and business uncertainty. Nearly half (48%) of the regional firms identified the availability of high quality personnel, with many engaged in a ‘war for talent’, as their main challenge for the coming year.
“In contrast, a third (32%) of City firms see price competition as their biggest issue. The winners going forward, whether regional or City firms, will be those who are change ready and able to adapt quickly. Given the proximity of Kent to London, there will be many local firms keeping a close eye on their competitors in the Capital.”
Looking forward, City and regional firms appear to be adopting very different investment priorities for the next 12 to 24 months in order to maintain growth.
The focus of 43% of the regional firms is on investing in new technology to improve efficiency, while more than a fifth (22%) of London law firms surveyed were now focused on investing more in their marketing.
The survey does highlight an area of concern for regional firms with 20% of respondents reporting a drop in revenue, up from 17% the previous year. Those firms with a turnover below £10million appear to be the ones hardest hit, with 26% reporting a decline in revenue.
Simon Warne added: “This may be indicative of the uncertainty caused in advance of the Brexit vote, which took place shortly after firms’ year ends. However, in the last few weeks anecdotal evidence would suggest there’s been a bounce in terms of activity, especially for those law firms specialising in commercial property and mergers and acquisitions.”
Crowe, which has offices in Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone, offers services in audit, tax and advisory. For more information call 01622 767676.