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Part one of Business of Law’s Bellwether Report 2014: Brave New World, shows economic and industry challenges have seen independent and sole practitioners diversify to flourish

• 42% say their business is growing, with a further 40% describing their status as stable
• Confidence amongst the sector has doubled since The Bellwether Report 2013: Survive or Thrive?
• Over three-quarters of those questioned believe that constant evolution is required to stay at the top of the market

Research commissioned by legal blog Business of Law, a resource platform aimed at independent lawyers, has found that practitioners are thriving in 2014, having diversified to adapt to the changing market place.

Part one of The Bellwether Report 2014: Brave New World, released today, reveals that two thirds of practitioners have made changes to their business plan in the past 12 months, as part of a tactical response to new opportunities. This move resulted in 82% of those questioned, describing their business as either growing or stable.

The survey, instructed by the LexisNexis Business of Law blog, as a temperature check of the changing legal landscape, was compiled between October 2013 and January 2014, and focuses on independent and sole practitioners.

Over three-quarters of those questioned believe that constant evolution is required from smaller firms to stay at the top of the market place, while a similar figure (74%), believe independent firms need to ‘up their game’ to survive in the current competitive climate.

Increased marketing drives have been at the forefront of the changes made by independent and sole practitioners, with 39% having invested in website development over the past year, while 30% have increased their networking efforts.

Technology is also playing a more significant role in the legal industry at this level, with 34% of participants having increased their investment in technology.

Having been rewarded for their efforts with increased business, confidence amongst this group has doubled since the inaugural Bellwether Report 2013, with the latest version finding 26% of respondents are ‘very confident’ in the future of their practice. This is echoed by the fact nearly two-thirds of those questioned believe the country is on its way out of recession.

Independent practitioner Mark Kiteley observed at a recent Business of Law roundtable debate: “The market has changed and we as lawyers have had to change. But the high street firm is thriving – people still want to come and see us in our offices and trust that much more than just online interaction.”

The report shows there are still a number of challenges facing independent firms however.

Significant rises have been reported in Professional Indemnity premiums, with over a third having seen their premiums rise, the average increase being 20%. Independent layer Swati Patel explained: “PI premiums were going to cost my company just under 12% of its gross projected annual turnover, so I’ve had to look at alternative methods of practicing. I would have preferred my company to have become an authorized firm but instead, I now provide the equivalent of in-house legal services to my clients.”

A substantial 78% of respondents identified the demands of new compliance regulations as a significant threat to their business’ health, while nearly a third, 32%, disagree that the new ABS regulations are positive for the industry – with 53% believing they are irrelevant.

Confusion also surrounds the ability of independent practitioners to plan an appropriate exit from their business, with only 19% having a defined exit strategy in place.

Despite all this, only 7% of those questioned would rather work for a larger firm, with the sector showing an increasingly entrepreneurial spirit.

Jonathan Whittle, Market Development Director at LexisNexis said:

“We’re extremely pleased to see that the independent legal industry is thriving, as shown by part one of The Bellwether Report 2014: Brave New World.

“Being an independent practitioner and going it alone is hard work – which is why we set-up the Business of Law blog, to bring like-minded people together, to share ideas on how to thrive in this shifting legal landscape.

“We can see from the report’s findings that this sector are indeed encountering a Brave New World, and it is a new breed, a new generation of lawyers hungry for success that are driving this new world and driving industry change.

“The insights gained will help shape the support we offer through the Business of Law blog, and I look forward to debating the findings with our community.”

For the full report please visit: www.lexisnexis.co.uk/bellwether2014

Notes to Editors:

• For more information about anything contained in this press release, please contact Steve Walsh on 07944 558 654 or at stevewalsh@badgerpr.co.uk, or Becky Westaway on 07813 052230 or at beckywestaway@badgerpr.co.uk

About Business of Law

• URL: businessoflaw.lexisnexis.co.uk
• Set-up in early 2013, Business of Law is a LexisNexis-owned legal blog, created by experts, for experts, with the aim of uniting lawyers and business leaders to share knowledge about how to not just survive these more competitive times, but to thrive
• Business of Law’s aim is to build the definitive resource for independent lawyers; an online destination that can help the sector to do business better
• For further information about the Business of Law Blog, please contact Clementine Bernhardt: Clementine.bernhardt@lexisnexis.co.uk, 0207 421 6962

About LexisNexis Legal & Professional

• LexisNexis Legal & Professional (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes
• As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services
• Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional harnesses leading-edge technology and world-class content, to help professionals work in faster, easier and more effective ways. Through close collaboration with its customers, the company ensures organizations can leverage its solutions to reduce risk, improve productivity, increase profitability and grow their business
• Part of Reed Elsevier, LexisNexis Legal & Professional serves customers in more than 100 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide
• In the UK, LexisNexis (www.lexisnexis.co.uk) online legal solutions include: Lexis®PSL, Lexis®Draft, Lexis®Smart and Lexis®Library. Published resources include both Butterworths® and Tolley™
• LexisNexis provides the most comprehensive source of legal and tax commentary in the UK and was named Supplier of the Year at the British Legal Awards 2012
• For independent legal professionals, smaller law firms and sole practitioners, LexisNexis covers over 25 specialist areas of law, with online products, priced and tailored to suit business needs:

LAW--------------------TOOLS------------BUSINESS SUPPORT
Case Law-------------Precedents------------CPD
Legislation----------Practice notes--------Practice management
Legal developments---Drafting tools--------Practice compliance
Commentary--------------Forms--------------Market intelligence & trends
Magazines & Journals----Checklists---------Legal blogs

Press Release Ends

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