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Legal sector faces change in fees structure

COMMERCIAL law firms are facing a period of dramatic change that will force the sector to rethink fee structures and see more power handed to clients, said new research.

A survey of general counsel and private practice partners commissioned by law firm Eversheds found that 78 per cent believe the recession will have a lasting effect on the legal sector.

In-house legal counsel are holding an increasingly important commercial advisory role within their own companies say 74 per cent of general counsels, while 35 per cent said the increasing status and professionalism of the in-house lawyer will cause major change in the profession.

Meanwhile, applying pressure on billing structures and efficiency were sighted as the main drivers for change as two-thirds of clients said they demanded lower fees from their lawyers and 47 per cent of partners recognised it as a main priority.

“Law firms need to make sure they listen to their customers, understand their needs and recognise that change will happen,” said Richard Given, emerging markets legal director at Cisco.

“Those who can address change will be the ‘next generation’.”