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Legal survey 2020

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway and Pitcher Partners recently conducted a survey of legal firms and partners in Australia and New Zealand. Pitcher Partners has been carrying out the survey for 6 years, and this is the first year Baker Tilly Staples Rodway  has obtained input from New Zealand legal firms.

The survey is designed to identify key trends, risks and challenges in the legal sector, and analyse how these factors impact culture, reputation and profitability.

The purpose of the survey is to assist those in the legal sector to make evidence-based decisions when it comes to their strategy, practices and processes.

The survey was carried out before COVID-19 was an issue and should be read in that light.

If you are interested in taking part in the next survey and receiving updates please let us know.

Survey highlights

This year’s survey revealed a gap between expectations and reality – specifically, as they relate to legal firm partners and the wider firm. Key findings included:

  • STATE OF THE MARKET: It has long been acknowledged that a culture of long hours and fast turnarounds in the legal sector has come at the expense of work-life balance. But work-life balance, workplace culture and conditions have been in the spotlight recently, particularly when it comes to workload pressures for junior lawyers.
  • CULTURE: A firm’s culture plays an important role in the success of a legal practice, however, only 43% of firms actively review cultural issues on a regular basis. Further, 54% of firms believe that the main driver for culture within a firm is the current partner group.
  • TECHNOLOGY: This year’s survey revealed a jump in the number of firms using technology to improve operations, with an increasing number of legal firms formally tracking referrals, financial performance, customer experience and productivity.
  • FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: Findings reveal legal firms are experiencing increasing pressure on fees and profit due to global market conditions, growing professional indemnity costs and increased regulation and technology issues including cybersecurity.
  • PEOPLE, REMUNERATION AND RETENTION: this year’s survey sought views on a range of factors including equity and retention, remuneration, gender and more, revealing rising risks for firms.
  • STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE: Compliance obligations of legal firms continue to increase with the structure and governance of practices becoming more important. Taxation and stamp duty consequences remain the main impediment to changing existing structures, with findings showing new firms favoured a corporate model from the outset.

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