93% OF SOUTH WEST LAW FIRMS POSITIVE ABOUT THE YEAR AHEAD
Confidence among law firms based in Bristol and the South West remains high despite rising competitive pressures, according to the results of Smith & Williamson’s annual survey.
The research conducted by accountancy, investment management and tax group, reveals that over half (53%) of the Bristol and South West-based law firms who took part report growing competition, with firms specialising in niche areas presenting the primary challenge. Despite this, confidence remains high, with 93% of firms positive about the year ahead.
A focus on specialist sectors was seen as the greatest opportunity for the region’s law firms over the next two to three years, followed by UK expansion, lateral hires and investment in technology.
According to Smith & Williamson, the high level of competition is helping to drive up interest in acquisitions and mergers: the survey suggests that 43% of firms are looking to acquire or merge with another firm in the coming year. This is a sharp increase since this time last year when just 28% said they were interested.
Fiona Westwood, a partner at Smith & Williamson’s 200-strong Bristol office and a member of the firm’s professional practices group, said: “The right acquisition combined with an effective strategy can help firms to scale-up and develop market presence in a chosen niche or area, and so set themselves apart. The growing trend of relatively small acquisitions can also help to deliver benefits relatively quickly compared to a merger of two similarly sized businesses.”
She continued: “Differentiating the firm in a crowded marketplace is considered a major challenge by law firms, while focusing on specialist sectors can help firms to strengthen their niche and so differentiate themselves. Like any brand, being able to explain and demonstrate why your service is different and superior to the competition is fundamental to taking market share.”