Scottish law firms can find out more about their financial health by taking part in the 2019 Financial Benchmarking Survey, which opens today, Wednesday, 27 February.
The survey, which is carried out by independent researchers Tribal on behalf of the Law Society of Scotland, helps firms of all sizes, from sole practitioner and high street firms to larger commercial firms, assess their financial health and how they are performing in the wider legal market.
The confidential, online questionnaire allows law firms to access a full breakdown of total costs, information on cashflow as well as examine the relationships across different results, for example by plotting staff costs against profitability, to get a full understanding of their financial performance.
Alison Atack, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Knowing just how your business is performing is a crucial aspect of running a successful law firm.
“It’s well worth investing the time to complete the survey as the findings help solicitors make the right strategic decisions for their business and its future development. I’d encourage all firms to take part and make the survey part of their business management toolkit.
“It also means we and the wider profession can see how the sector is performing overall. The research findings, which are completely anonymous, are also referred to by a number of stakeholders, including government and the legal aid board, and it’s important that we have a robust sample which can accurately reflect the legal services sector in Scotland. While last year showed some encouraging results, particularly for larger firms which participated, the drop in median profit for sole practitioners suggested that some of our smallest firms are continuing to struggle and it is important that we can continue to monitor any trends in the financial health of the profession.”
Sue Carter, UK Head of Professional Services Sector at Clydesdale Bank, which is sponsoring the financial benchmarking survey, said: “Taking part means that solicitors can access information which will help them manage their business. It can provide useful insight into areas that are performing well, and can help in decision-making if changes need to be made to ensure the financial security of the business.
“Another advantage from my perspective, is that firms that participate in the survey can easily demonstrate to their bank how seriously they take financial management, particularly if they have plans to expand.
“The Clydesdale Bank’s Professional Services Sector team have insight into the unprecedented levels of change that continue to reshape the legal services sector and we believe this survey can add real value and facilitate a firm’s growth.”
Email invitations to participate in this year's survey will be sent directly to law firms’ cashroom partners from research company Tribal. All responses go to Tribal and are confidential. The survey closes on 5 April 2019.
The 2018 survey key findings showed that profits per partner (before outlays) for all respondent firms increased to £76,000, up from £69,000 in the 2017 survey. Larger participating firms with 10+ partners, showed a significant rise in the median profit per partner to £172,000, a 38% increase on last year’s findings.
The results for the other sizes of firms were relatively static at £79,000 for 2-4 partner firms, down from £82,000 in the 2017 report, and £94,000 for 5-9 partner firms, which showed a small drop from £96,000 the previous year. The findings for sole principal firms taking part in the survey, which had a median profit per partner of £48,000, down from £50,000 in the previous year, suggest that they are continuing to operate at the margins of commercial viability.
The 2018 survey findings are available to read on the financial benchmarking pages of our website.