Challenge accepted: the second Law Society survey of managing partners


David Rowe outlines key insights from the Society's second industry-wide survey.

Mirroring the economy

Irish law firms serve as accurate barometers of economic performance, writes David Rowe, a Director of Outsource. The profession has seen conditions ranging from the economic boom, resulting in high levels of conveyancing and commercial activity, to the post ‘Celtic Tiger’ crash, resulting in a very serious fall in fee income for firms of most sizes.

While law firms have recently experienced growth varying from steady to strong, depending on location and type of firm, volatility has re-emerged at the beginning of 2017 – most notably in the shape of Brexit.

A cautious outlook

Of the firms surveyed, 62% expect further improvement in 2017, a slight drop from the same result in 2016. The survey results, together with observations from working with over 300 firms in 2016, indicate increased caution in the coming 12 months following five years of recovery.

Recent growth in fee income has been eroded by increases in costs, notably salaries and property costs, the survey reveals. The bulk of firms in Ireland (80%) remain modest in size, employing between one and four solicitors. Meanwhile, almost 80% of firms believe their future lies in growing their current entity, and only 9% see a merger with a similar firm in their immediate future.

Writing in the June Gazette, David Rowe develops other insights from the survey, assessing the challenges and opportunities presented to firms in 2017.

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