Business support and tax

2015 Annual law firms’ survey

Firms are continuing to invest in business improvement programmes to improve profitability, enhance support services and reduce costs. We are seeing major investment in technology across the sector with firms reporting ‘improving the use of IT’ as their number one support services priority.


  • Firms are continuing to invest in business improvement programmes. The focus of these programmes for Top 10 firms is to drive profitability and enhance support services, whilst firms outside of the Top 10 continue to feel pressure to reduce costs to remain competitive.
  • Improving the use of IT is now the number one priority for business support activities. Despite this, only Top 10 firms have increased the proportion of revenue spent on IT. IT projects have typically focused on supporting the core areas of business support such as Finance, HR and Risk. Firms are also starting to invest in technology to address other areas such as matter pricing, resource management and procurement.
  • 80% of firms now recognise the importance of Digital to their future strategies. However, whilst firms recognise the wide ranging benefits digital technologies can bring, less than a quarter of firms have made significant changes.
  • Pricing continues to be a top priority, with firms recognising that a strong understanding of their clients is critical to successful fee discussions. Providing partners with the right tools and methodology for pricing decisions is also considered key. However, few firms are confident in their ability to manage these activities effectively and, in particular, to take into account the estimated profitability of matters when making pricing decisions.
  • Key account strategies continue to be the priority for marketing and business development functions as they look to drive profitability.
  • There is an increasing appetite for firms to use or offer alternative delivery models for legal services (providing innovative ways for clients to procure, use or interact with firms). Nearly a quarter of respondents are employing alternative models for legal staffing, preparation of documents, and litigation support.
  • From a tax perspective, we are seeing firms paying more attention to transfer pricing and international matters whilst HMRC’s focus is on VAT and, increasingly, salaried members.