Are lawyers shunning traditional firms in favour of self-employment? A new report investigates how fee-sharing is changing the industry

LexisNexisToday, LexisNexis Legal & Professional, a leading global provider of legal information and analytics has released an investigative report entitled “Rise of the legal consultants.” The report looks at why, by 2026, it is predicted that one-third of all lawyers in the United Kingdom may leave traditional firms and become self-employed legal consultants at fee-sharing firms.

For centuries, the legal partnership model has been honed and perfected. So, when a new model comes along promising partner-like returns without the strains and demands – there is no surprise that it gains attention. Using in-depth interviews with legal consultants from across the sector, the report digs into the compelling financial incentives luring lawyers into fee-sharing firms, the benefits and risks this model presents and what clients really think. Shedding management and leadership responsibilities to spend more time with clients is, on the surface, a persuasive argument.

Rather than suggesting traditional law firms face a terminal decline or that fee-sharing is a short-lived fad, this report argues that firms must learn from their fee-sharing cousins. From new ways of billing, new technologies that increase efficiency or even better ways of retaining clients – traditional firms can adopt new ways of working that will help mitigate talent and client retention pressures.

Yet, as the report reveals, the fee-sharing model is not perfect or suitable for all. A flexible work-life balance may be appealing compared to the traditional (long) working hours in law firms but has its downsides. In return for keeping up to three-quarters of client billings, legal consultants must manage their own workloads and client relationships. With no referrals, limited back-office support and no team of junior associates to rely on – the delivery pressure can be high. Legal consultants are responsible for their own business development. An intensive case mustn’t detract from the need to keep an eye on the business pipeline.

“It’s easy to argue that a model that offers a savvy lawyer more money in the pocket would be a no-brainer,” said Dylan Brown, the report’s editor. “But not all lawyers have the desire to be self-sufficient. If firms can learn from the technology adoption and innovative ways of working used by legal consultants – they can tap into this growing trend.”

The report looks at the client response to legal consultants and fee-sharing models and reflects on how some of the UK’s biggest law firms have reacted and adapted.

Read the report here.

About LexisNexis Legal & Professional

LexisNexis Legal & Professional® provides legal, regulatory, and business information and analytics that help customers increase their productivity, improve decision-making, achieve better outcomes, and advance the rule of law around the world. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 150 countries with 10,500 employees worldwide, is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


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