Attention June 12th, 2024 Webinar Attendees, please click here to complete our Survey or Attendance Verification and Credit Request Form. (required for CLE credit)

Important! June 12th, 2024 Webinar Attendees, please click here to complete our Survey or Verification Request Form.

Click Here

Future is Bright for Solo and Small Firms

Last update





Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Only 20 percent of small firm lawyers would rather be in a larger practice.

If you’re a solo or small firm lawyer, congratulations – it seems you’re the face of the future.

Large and midsize firms are struggling to find their identities. The traditional partnership model is on life support. And though megafirms are thriving, the real action is occurring in small practices.

Want proof? A whopping 92 percent of lawyers in small firms say they like having control over their professional destiny. Only 20 percent would rather be in a larger practice.

Those findings are from the Bellwether Report 2019 from Lexis Nexis. And though the survey focuses on lawyers in the UK, similar trends have been detected in the US.

For instance, this article in the Wall Street Journal declared the old law firm culture – where partnerships were once the Holy Grail, and lawyers stayed with the same firm for life – “all but dead.”

“There are many advantages of working at a small firm, such as improved workplace efficiency and better quality of life,” writes Hannah Thompson in the Bellwether Report 2019. “The benefits go beyond the practicalities of delivering legal services. Wellbeing is seen as a major plus.”

Among the advantages of small firms, according to the Bellwether Report 2019:

  • Ability to remain in control
  • Swifter decision making
  • Better client experience
  • Flexible working
  • Competitive rates

Want to keep your practice safe and successful? Become a member of Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. You’ll get access to the Pro Practice Playbook, free webinars, and your very own online consultant with Ask the Risk Pro. Click here to learn how to join.

29 Firms With 1,000 Lawyers or More
A recent ABA Journal article (which sources the Wall Street Journal report) found that the entire culture at large firms has been upended in recent decades: “A focus on data replaced tightknit camaraderie. Firms closely track how many billable hours each lawyer has logged, which clients are late on payment, and how many hours an assignment usually takes.”

The old notions of what constitutes a “large firm” – in terms of size, lawyer mobility and mission – has changed as well. The new normal is for firms to come together in giant global entities, with talent hopping from firm to firm as free agents.

“In the late 1960s, the country’s largest law firm, Shearman & Sterling, had 169 lawyers,” according to the ABA Journal. “Today, 29 law firms in the United States have at least 1,000 lawyers. The country’s largest law firm, Dentons, has 10,000 lawyers in 78 countries”

And while the partnership model is still the dominant blueprint, new structures are taking hold.

“The days of undifferentiated, full-service law firms flourishing are gone,” says this Forbes piece. “Data confirms the growing separation between a cadre of elite firms and the pack. What’s elite in this context? It’s the premium, bespoke work only a handful of firms are regularly engaged to perform and the premium fees clients willingly pay for it.”

Happy Days for Small Firms
Meanwhile, the future is bright for solo and small firms.

“Smaller firms are considered to be better at fostering a culture of more holistic employee wellbeing,” says Thompson. “One of the other major benefits is better client servicing. Over the last few years client servicing has become a huge part of how law firms operate, and some are still not getting this right. With smaller law firms the client experience is better as you can have the same person handle an issue from start to finish, leading to a better client relationship therefore leading to more work.”

Read the Bellwether Report 2019 here.

Practice in a small firm? Get a big advantage with Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. When you’re a member, you get top-line professional liability coverage, plus the resources you need to grow your practice. Learn more about what we can do for you.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts on!

Alta Pro Logo Icon

About the Editorial Staff

In an age of consolidation where increasingly impersonal transactions have made customer service an oxymoron, we bring together independent agents, insurance companies, and other industry specific service providers to develop and deliver insurance products and risk management solutions that benefit our insurance customers.

June 12, 2024 1:00 pm EST
1.0 Ethics Credit

Join Our Newsletter

Occasional newsletters and CLE invites

Find Us on Social

Upcoming CLE Webinar: Cybersecurity Ethics : Start With the Basics

June 12, 2024 1:00 pm EST
CLE Credit: 1.0 Ethics

David G. Ries

Clark Hill


Latest Videos

1 Hour

Essential Business Skills for Busy Lawyers Part 1 – Communicate Like A Pro

1 Hour

Creating an Attorney Compensation Plan That Will Build Firm Culture and Attract Top Talent

1 Hour

Four “Ds” of Client Relations: Dabbling, Documentation, Difficult Clients, Don’t Do it!

Need Help?

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Or email us directly at

Or submit your issue in the comment form below and we will respond as soon as possible.