Survey shows small firms are losing out

Economic recovery is bringing increased profitability to law firms, although the benefits are unevenly spread, according to the sixth Survey in Financial Management in Law Firms.

The survey, conducted by Coopers & Lybrand in association with The Lawyer, found that large and medium-sized firms are ahead of small firms in terms of financial performance.

Only 71 per cent of firms with up to four partners increased profits in the past year, against 84 per cent of firms with 16 to 30 partners, and 80 per cent of firms with 50 partners or more. This is a trend which the survey has picked up consistently in recent years.

Most of the increase in workload is being absorbed by incumbent partners, with 70 per cent of firms showing no rise in the number of partners. The report warns this is leading to higher stress and less training.

David Snell, a partner at Coopers & Lybrand, commented: “There is an element of caution, I think because the increase may not be as much as you might expect in the current strong economic conditions.”

See pages 9 and 13.