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Fear and growing in the downturn

Stagnant fee income and declining profits are likely to be a fact of life for most small and mid-size firms for years to come, according to a report published by NatWest earlier this year. Last week, courtesy of the bank, we got some of the respondents around a table to hear more about their thoughts. Jean-Yves Gilg reports

19 April 2013

What is it with lawyers and performance incentives these days? Ian Shovlin, senior partner at Midlands firm Higgs and Sons, received five times as many 'thank you' notes for the chocolate eggs he handed out at Easter as he did after the pay rises he awarded earlier in the year.

Shovlin's candid account elicited chuckles from participants at the joint NatWest-Solicitors Journal roundtable last week, but it is symptomatic of a growing malaise at senior levels in mid-tier law firms. The present generation of lawyers takes monetary reward as a given, an attitude at odds with sound financial management and a more business-like approach to running a modern law firm.

What's more, Generation Y does not appear to have the same appetite for partnership - and the risks and responsibilities that come with it - as its elders. And without a new generation willing to take the reins, an otherwise prosperous firm can find itself with no future, its partners with no re...

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