LPM Frontiers 2024

The leading annual picture of SME law firms' changing strategic priorities



LPM Frontiers 2024 finds business leaders at the UK’s SME law firms rather more confident in their ability to compete — for both business growth and the talent to deliver it — than one year ago. But notable challenges remain. Chief among them are: ensuring a consistently top-notch client experience; delivering such interactions and outcomes within a wider culture that’s ‘digital-first’ where appropriate; staying agile enough to respond to the profession’s shifting sands as required; and keeping on top of costs.

Most leaders also see a need to invest more in technology as part of the solution (by no means the only driver of improvement), but a significant number admit they really struggle to understand their return on that investment. Plenty see some core system types within their setups as needing either improvement or full-blown replacement to help meet business goals of more efficient, joined-up and collaborative working.

Another clear signpost this year is to a future delivered with cloud technology — with leaders’ eyes on the best ways to both manage risk and reap productivity rewards. But a huge change project usually brings commensurate challenges.

This year’s LPM Frontiers findings come together with highly helpful perspectives on them from our six expert industry partners: Access Legal, Advanced, Elite, NetDocuments, Osprey Approach and Tessaract.


SME firms in 2024 are still more likely to identify moves from what may be termed ‘traditional’ competition as strategically concerning, but we now see a growing gap between the idea of threat posed by ‘firms like mine’ (or larger) picking up a bigger slice of work — and/or talented people — and so-called ‘alternative’ models making their presence more felt. These may be ‘virtual’ legal businesses with less infrastructure, which offer online services straight out to clients, or comprise freelance lawyers/consultants who typically choose their own work and hours.


Almost one in 10 leaders say their firm will increase spend significantly through 2024-2025 (2023: 8%), over half (55%) expect some increase (2023: 53%), and one-third still expect spend to stay about the same. With fewer suggesting they plan to rein in spend, leaders of SME firms are aware they need to keep up with the notoriously rapid pace of change producing evolving toolsets and paving paths of organisational transformation.


A fifth of SME firm leaders say their firm will naturally choose ‘cloud-native’ systems; designed specifically against the backdrop of business benefits seen to flow from cloud — such as scalability and flexibility — from day one. Another third think of themselves as ‘cloud-first’ — that core management systems are ultimately better catered for by cloud. It’s not a question of if, but when, they are able to move. Fewer than a fifth are clear that cloud won’t be the best option for at least some of their needs, and a mere 3% of leaders would say it’s a peripheral concern.




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