Following periods of great uncertainty in the markets some firms emerge stronger and some struggled and ultimately failed. In the current climate, you need to make sure you are in the right firm for your clients and career. Remember, there is always risk. We no longer live in an era where there is certainty that partnership at one firm is for life. The legal market has changed beyond recognition and firms are either moving forwards or backwards. There is no safe middle ground. There is more sector focus than ever before, more focus on fee rates and partner chargeable hour targets and billable hours. The pressure and expectations continue to increase. Strategy, turnover and PEP are in the media spotlight where firms are now ranked in league tables and are judged on their financials. These various factors taken cumulatively means there is clear risk staying as well as moving.
Here are my top 10 questions to ask yourself:
1. Is your firm in strong financial health or reliant on a large overdraft or substantial borrowings? Are you comfortable with its position?
2. What does your firm specialise and focus on? Is the firm committed to your sector and practice area or are you swimming against the tide and working in a silo? If your firm too heavily reliant in one or two sectors meaning it could be exposed to economic headwinds or it is well leveraged to ride through storms? Do you know the turnover breakdown between different practice areas? Equally is the firm over reliant on a few key clients or there is a broader range?
3. Does size matter? The larger the firm, the larger overheads and it may be slower to adapt to a rapidly changing legal market place.
4. Where are you on the partnership ladder and what are your prospects in the next 12-24 months? Is Brexit going to be another excuse not to move your career forward? Is profitability going to be affected?
5. How is your firm managed? Are you clear on the strategy? How much information are you given?
6. Does your firm’s hourly rates suit your clients? Often there is a conflict between firms constantly wanting to raise charge out rates and clients wanting to see more value for their legal spend. Would a move to a firm with lower charge out rates help your clients and assist with marketing?
7. How much work comes to you from other partners and departments? Are you benefitting from the firm more generally in terms of cross selling and conversely are you benefitting from work your clients deliver to other departments?
8. Are you surrounded by other driven and committed partners who are working towards the same goal? What has the attrition rate looked like over the last two years? do you know your firm’s recruitment strategy and how they will implement it?
9. Where does your firm sit in market? Where is its centre of gravity and HQ? How exposed is it to mergers/takeovers?
10. Most importantly, do you feel valued ?
If any of these questions resonate with you and you would like to discuss the market and whether a move is right for you, please contact me for a confidential career discussion.
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