Costs News

24 March 2021
go back

Costs Lawyers told to embrace changing legal market to grow out of pandemic

Costs Lawyers need to embrace the changes that have been happening in the legal market over the past decade as much as the rest of the profession, a leading observer has argued.

Crispin Passmore, a former senior official at both the Legal Services Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority, said most Costs Lawyers could continue to do what they do now “without much change and get through to retirement”.

“But for the profession overall, the changes are more fundamental. Changes to legal regulation have happened alongside a whole host of other changes and the pandemic might just be turbo-charging some of them.”

In a recent blog for the Costs Lawyer Standards Board on how the Legal Services Act 2007 has changed the market, Mr Passmore – who now runs his own consultancy business – highlighted developments such as the growth of fixed fees across commercial disputes, increasing use of arbitration clauses, and alternative legal services providers taking a greater role in supporting and even undertaking litigation, bringing “a stronger focus on costs management”.

He also cited the growth of litigation funders, development of analytics tools to drive litigation decisions, the imminent prospect of non-fault divorce reducing family law disputes, online courts “that open up bulk cases to even more standardisation”, and the expansion of fixed costs and the fast-track in the civil courts.

“Readers may identify different or more changes. They may place more or less focus on each of them. They may debate the importance of each change and the impact on Costs Lawyers in the short term.

“But I doubt many will think that their role in the legal market will be unchanged in 20 years’ time. The interesting question is how we all respond: hunker down and look forward to retirement or see the opportunities to do things differently and grow the business.”

Mr Passmore acknowledged that revolution in the legal market was never going to be overnight. “Real change is happening and there is more to come – but there is no room for complacency. The Competition and Markets Authority needs to hold regulators’ feet to the fire to do more, faster. Government needs to support that.

“And the profession needs to embrace it so it can grow its way out of the pandemic. That applies to Costs Lawyers as much as any others.”

Mr Passmore said all of the legal market has been touched by reform – not just the emergence of alternative business structures that now made up around 10% of firms, but also through multi-disciplinary practices, lawyers in unregulated firms and a resurgence of innovation in traditional law firms.

“What this means is that customers of all sorts have more choice, though they are a long way from consistently exercising that yet. Importantly, lawyers also have more choice – where they work and how they practice, for example…

“Overall, I think that there is a gradual restructuring happening in the market. Consolidation in personal injury is one example, investment in corporate firms such as DWF another. There is much more to come.”


Sue C   25/03/2021 at 13:30

Of course we must embrace the changes and the opportunities! I hope that the ACL will inform, train and encourage us into this brave new world - without delay!

Add your comment

go back