Solicitors see the benefits of working in smaller firms, research shows

updated on 10 July 2019

The number of solicitors leaving larger law firms to join smaller players has increased in the past three years, according to research by LexisNexis.

The research focused on over 180 lawyers in small and large firms across England and Wales. Some 64% of respondents said they were leaving larger practices to work in smaller firms, an increase of 11% on last year’s survey results.

Fewer than 20% of those surveyed wanted to work for a large firm, while 44% would consider working for a small outfit (20 or under fee earners). A firm’s size is an important consideration for solicitors, since it dictates hiring, workloads, working environment and profits.

Some 90% of solicitors considered a small firm’s benefits to be ‘advantageous’ in comparison to the alternative – the control, client experience and rapid decisiveness are very desirable, even when faced with the downsides and challenges of a small law firm.

Many solicitors did appreciate the issues with small firms, however; respondents highlighted a potential perceived lack of credibility (75%), smaller capacity for good clients (82%) and the difficulty of building a pipeline of future businesses (25%). Succession planning and the increase in compliance regulations concerned 51% of those surveyed.

Jon Whittle, market development director, LexisNexis UK, said: “The future is certainly bright for small firms and an overwhelming number of solicitors working in these organisations believe that small law is better – from both personal and professional standpoints. While small law firms believe the benefits of their size outweigh the challenges, these organisations aren’t dismissive of the challenges they face, which is a good thing. Their combination of realism, confidence and optimism will likely help them to continue to thrive.”