People and staffing emerge as priorities for legal firms

February 25, 2019

The results of the annual Pitcher Partners Legal Firm Survey were revealed this week at a special event attended by guests from mid-market law firms.

Ben Lethborg, Partner in Private Business and Family Advisory of Pitcher Partners Melbourne, shared highlights from the survey in the areas of people, profit and finance, clients and technology. 

Key findings included the higher profitability of law firms billing by the hour for at least half their work, and the continued reliance on Partner equity as a source of firm finance. It was also noted that there has been a decline in the readiness of law firms to restructure, perhaps as the ATO’s review of professional services income becomes more complex.     

“Our survey findings are being released at an opportune time, with the industry receiving press attention lately for firm culture and perceived overloading of graduates,” said Ben.

“The report shows that the industry rates staffing and people as their greatest priority. They are addressing the challenge of retention with more flexible working and improving culture and diversity with more female hires – now 64% of graduates”.

Guest speaker Michelle Dixon, CEO of Maddocks, suggested that with the correlation between diversity and firm performance already well-known, firms should strive to achieve inclusion.

“In an increasingly complex world, we get the best decision-making delivering the best value for clients, when we have diversity of thought in our firms,” Michelle said.

“No matter how meritorious each individual is, you will have the best decision making when your group is comprised of diverse individuals. It’s more than gender diversity – it’s also cultural diversity, and diversity of lived experience.”

During a group discussion, a number of shared issues emerged, including opportunities presented by technology, the challenges of cybersecurity, and billing methods.

The Pitcher Partners’ survey of 140 mid-market firms of various sizes explores the top challenges faced by the industry and the factors which contribute to profitability.


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