04:53, August 14 527 0

2017-08-14 04:53:10
The 60 second interview: There will be no “Big 4” law firms by 2025

Eversheds Sutherland co-chief executive officer Lee Ranson talks to The Lawyer ahead of this year’s Business Leadership Summit, which focuses on the law firm of 2025.

Whilst there is no doubt that there has been significant consolidation within the legal industry in the last 10 years or so, I don’t think it has happened with the speed and impact that many commentators predicted. Will there be more consolidation as the battle for market share intensifies?  Certainly. But will we be looking at an industry dominated by a ‘Big 4’ equivalent in the future? I doubt it, and certainly not by 2025.

The legal industry is hugely fragmented by comparison to that of accountancy, with few firms having more than a small percentage of overall market share. There also remain significant regulatory barriers in many key geographies. Notwithstanding these challenges, I believe the general direction of travel is now set and I feel certain that we will continue to read more and more news of legal industry consolidation over the coming years.

The sheer pace and scale of new developments makes legal industry future-gazing a good sport, but probably not a safe one to bet on since 2025 is almost light years away in tech terms. It seems unlikely that it will be one, single technology which will lead the revolution that is already underway. Probably it will be a blend of many technologies, some of which are already living and breathing, others which are nascent and many more just an idle ‘what if?’ kind of wondering in our collective minds. I think to really have an impact the test of any “revolutionary technology” must be does it make things better for the client and can they see/feel the difference?

If we want our business services teams to drive growth then we need to make this part of their mandate and, as an industry, we have been disappointingly slow to do so. Recognising and unlocking the potential of our business services teams to drive revenue is a largely untapped resource, and one which can produce transformative results.

Growth should be part of all of our agendas, not just management, partners or front line teams such as business development. An important starting point is to give the experts in these teams a true voice and meaningful stake in the success of the business. Easy words, however, firms which get this right and achieve this kind of cultural step-change, will steal a march on the competition.