LAW firms are set to benefit from a year of business expansion which will see companies pushing more work their way, according to a survey of UK companies.
But the 1995 Manches Corporate Survey shows companies are more discerning about which solicitors to hire, and that they are considering taking on more in-house lawyers.
“There could be casualties among those firms which are not geared to deal with this competition,” predicts Manches & Co senior partner Alasdair Simpson.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is also beginning to make its mark, concludes the survey, which is based on the responses of 272 companies to confidential questionnaires.
Of the companies surveyed, 36 per cent said they anticipated their use of solicitors firms would increase over the next 12 months.
But there is a strong indication that businesses are more prepared to spread their work among several firms rather than remaining loyal to one particular practice.
In the 1994 survey, companies used 2.9 firms on average while this year's figure is 3.9.
Companies are also more inclined to take on in-house lawyers. Eleven per cent of the 42 per cent of firms with legal departments anticipate they will be recruiting this year.
According to the survey, one in 20 firms used ADR in the last 12 months while more than half of the firms surveyed had been involved in UK litigation.
Companies are also slow to keep up with changes in the law. Forty per cent had ignored recent EU rulings on maternity rights.