LexisNexis releases latest Bellwether report, taking the temperature of the independent legal market

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The Age of the Client signals news challenges for independent lawyers

80% of lawyers believe they are delivering ‘above average’ service, but only 40% of private clients report receiving the same.

LexisNexis UK, a leading provider of content and technology solutions today released the latest version of the annual Bellwether report, taking the temperature of the independent legal market. The report finds that the balance of power between the lawyer and client is shifting. A new class of informed and demanding client is challenging the traditional working practices of legal professionals.

Bellwether 2015: The Age of the Client, the third annual report in the series, reveals:

  • Lawyers are confident about the future in today’s improving economy – two-thirds anticipate practice growth over the next five years.
  • Retaining clients is seen as a challenge by almost six out of 10 lawyers, due to low-cost competitors entering the market and reduction in traditional client loyalty.

Despite this, the gap in perception of levels of service between lawyers and clients is wide: 80% of lawyers believe they are delivering ‘above average’ service, but only 40% of private clients report receiving the same. The report also reveals gaps in lawyer’s understanding of client customer service priorities. Providing regular progress reports ranks second place as a client priority, but lawyers rate it as low as 10th. Lawyers rated being ‘good at listening’ 12th out of 14 priorities, while clients ranked it sixth. This report strongly suggests that private clients are now move savvy consumers of legal services who, equipped with online information and greater choice, are demanding change in how services are delivered.

Jon Whittle, Market Development Director at LexisNexis UK commented: “The findings of this report highlight the need for a client-centric, holistic and smart approach to the business of law. To succeed in the current climate, lawyers need to be more than just great lawyers - they need to be smart business people. Lawyers now need to implement clear strategies for every part of their business from client relationship management, marketing and business development to smart use of tools and technology. Done well, such an approach will support firms in winning over clients, growing the business and thriving.”

Other themes of the report include:

  • The threat of computerisation – Nearly half (48%) of lawyers see increasing client access to the internet and automated legal services as a significant business challenge.
  • Entrepreneurial lawyers viewing business differently to non-entrepreneurs – 92% of entrepreneurial independent lawyers say being forward-looking is important. Also, 67% "get a buzz out of practicing law" compared to 27% of non-entrepreneurs.

This Bellwether 2015 report is the third in the series and is based on interviews with 118 independent lawyers and more than 500 private clients across England.

The full report can be downloaded here: http://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/bellwether-report-2015

About LexisNexis Legal & Professional
LexisNexis Legal & Professional (http://www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organisations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional harnesses leading-edge technology and world-class content, to help professionals work in faster, easier and more effective ways. Through close collaboration with its customers, the company ensures organisations can leverage its solutions to reduce risk, improve productivity, increase profitability and grow their business. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 175 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide, is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

In the UK, LexisNexis (http://www.lexisnexis.co.uk) online legal solutions include: Lexis®PSL, Lexis®Draft, Lexis®Smart and Lexis®Library. Published resources include both Butterworths® and Tolley™.

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Melissa Higgsmith
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