Archive for March, 2011

The leap towards LLP status and commercial success

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

During the challenging economic conditions of the last few years many law firms have adopted new management structures, with the change to a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) proving particularly popular.  An LLP allows lawyers to share ownership of their firm whilst ensuring that no partner is liable to any creditor of the firm.  Furthermore, it also ensures that no partner is liable for the negligence of another.  This kind of protection is understandably appealing; the only downside is that there are more administrative duties to be taken care of than in the straightforward traditional Partnership set up.

The shift towards LLP structures is not the only commercial trend sweeping UK law firms.  In recent years many firms have also recruited chief executives and business development managers from non-legal backgrounds in a bid to push for growth and boost profits.  As our last blog suggested, there is a widespread belief that bringing in individuals with commercial rather than legal experience will help firms operate more profitably in the future.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on this trend to see whether coming from a non-legal background really does prove to be advantageous for this new wave of chief executives.

The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme

Monday, March 14th, 2011

The Enterprise Programme – The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme supports unemployed young people aged 18-30 to work out if their business ideas are viable and whether self-employment is right for them.

Depending on the outcome of this process, the programme can then offer mentoring support and, for those that really need it, financial support to start a business or mentoring support to secure goals in employment, education or training

Enterprise Campaign – There has recently been plenty of news coverage during the Trusts Enterprise Campaign week involving some of the Trust clients who were representing themselves and the Trust on local TV and radio as well as newspaper publications including …



Positive news for businesses in the West Midlands

Monday, March 14th, 2011

According to the*, the latest published figures are showing that business activity in the West Midlands rose at its fastest rate for 10 months in February, triggering a big rise in employment:

The latest Lloyds TSB West Midlands PMI report shows private sector activity growth is continuing to gain momentum with the figures for February up on those from the previous month.

However, the research warns that price pressures are continuing to build, with both input costs and output charges rising at the fastest rates since September 2008.

The Lloyds TSB West Midlands Business Activity Index – which measures the combined output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors – posted 58.5, up from 57.8 in January. Any figure above 50 suggests the economy is growing.

The index suggested there was anecdotal evidence the strong activity growth was underpinned by further new business wins. Manufacturing firms recorded a much stronger rise in private sector output than service providers – underlining January’s 6.8% increase in manufacturing was no fluke.

Firms in the region also indicated a rise in incoming new business for the 20th successive month during February. Despite easing since January, the pace of expansion was marked, and faster than at the UK-wide level. According to survey respondents, new order growth reflected improved confidence amongst both consumers and business clients.

Companies added to staffing numbers in February, extending the current period of growth to five months.

Furthermore, the rate of job creation accelerated to the fastest in the survey history – the employment growth linked to the rise in new business.

Average input prices rose at a substantial and accelerated pace in February. The rate of cost inflation was the highest since September 2008, largely reflecting increased energy, fuel and raw material prices.

The cost of steel since January was also cited by manufacturing firms, while service providers highlighted January’s VAT rise.

Strong cost inflation resulted in an increase in prices charged by West Midlands private sector firms for the fifteenth month running. The pace of inflation was marked, and the sharpest in almost two-and-a-half years.

Where’s the entrepreneurial spirit of the law?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

This week we have been discussing the role of entrepreneurialism in law firms. The two may seem unconnected at first and it’s easy to forget that law firms are after all businesses, as dependent on profits as any other enterprising set up. So how do firms nurture business development and encourage entrepreneurialism?

Rather than cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit amongst their up-and-coming lawyers, most firms show a preference for recruiting specialists when it comes to business development. During the downturn the majority of firms saw their billable fees fall significantly, prompting investment in client relationship managers, new business development managers and marketing managers. Is this the best way for firms the achieve growth or could lawyers themselves play a bigger part in winning new clients? Some would argue that their time is better spent on client work but high demand for business development managers, particularly those with a legal background, has been pushing salaries up, indicating that this may not always be the most economical strategy for growth.

We’re not sure which option will offer the best return in the long run; the only certainty is that firms must foster growth if they are to survive.

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