Law Update: Stragglers sinking

A substantial increase in the number of law firms going out of business is predicted by Coopers & Lybrand in its latest financial management survey, which reveals a worsening performance by up to one-third of firms. For the majority, however, things are looking up: 59 per cent have increased profits per partner, compared with 39 per cent in last year's survey. Fees billed per partner have increased for 79 per cent of practices (65 per cent), and 60 per cent have seen an increase in chargeable hours (43 per cent).

Brian Woods-Scawen, the Coopers partner responsible for the survey of 1,000 firms nationwide, said the point of no return had been reached for a number of the stragglers. 'Some will be taken over, others are destined to sink into mediocrity, gradually losing their key partners and clients, and the rest will not survive the next few years.'