There are three choices going forward in the modern legal arena: get big, get niche or get out!
So the big ticket brands, firstly, who are they? Jacob Emrani (Call Jacob) and The Barnes Firm, certainly. Should any household brand name successfully enter the market (if non-lawyer ownership of law firms is allowed), then I’m sure they would also be included, but other than that, it is hard to see that there are any standout big ticket brands in the personal injury arena.
There are certain advantages that these much-larger firms will have, by way of marketing experience, customer service journey and the ability to deal with the regulatory regime on a major level. Their ability to harmonize process with IT-driven platforms leads to a significant advantage in speed and compliance. However, while that can work successfully on a suite of both straightforward and commoditised cases, when the cases become more difficult and bordering on niche, the lower grade staff at these big ticket companies are, more often than not, unable to cope.
So therefore, the ability to cope with niche work remains as much a viable option as ever. The niche firms will have lower overhead, be able to provide a more tailored and potentially dedicated individual service to their clients, and will be easier to manage on both a supervisory and regulatory level, due to a smaller number of staff involved.
If the big ticket brands continue to be successful, this is going to squeeze the markets considerably for the small and medium sized practices whose only chance is to corner their own locality; however, the tendency for the public to want 24-hour availability and online solutions, means that the local law firm will hold only limited attraction for them. It remains to be seen whether this is simply another storm that small and medium size law firms will be able to ride, but it is easy to see that the obvious advantages that big ticket or niche firms have will continue to make life difficult for the small practice.