Nearly half of PI firms confident about future, says First4Lawyers

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Nearly half of claimant personal injury and clinical negligence law firms are expecting their turnover and profit to increase over the next year, according to First4Lawyers.

The marketing collective has said that it has conducted research among law firms in the sector which found that 49% of respondents anticipated an increase in turnover and 46% in profit over the next 12 months.

Out of the 104 firms polled, 62% said that the reduced RTA portal fees had made it difficult to make a profit from such work, but 38% had broader confidence in the future of their practices and so had recruited more qualified and paralegal staff in the last three months. Another 25% expected to recruit in the next three months.

Despite concerns about competition, 56% of respondents believed that alternative business structures have not improved the quality of service to injured people, with 49% saying that clients still wanted the personal service a small firm can offer. 32% felt there was no future for small firms in the market.

On the impact of the referral fee ban on business, more than half of respondents (55%) found it easy to comply with and were continuing to operate as before, while 41% thought it had managed to root out bad behaviour while still permitting legitimate marketing.

A third of respondents believed the SRA had shown no interest in enforcing the ban “as long as you’re not blatant”.

Commenting on the results, First4Lawyers’ managing director Qamar Anwar (pictured) said that he was “pleasantly surprised” that the PI and clinical negligence sector was in relatively buoyant mood despite the challenges it was facing.

“Very few industries could emerge as robust and positive having experienced three years of tough regulatory change.

“There is a growing tide of concern about its impact on how firms go about their work, with so-called commoditisation leading to a deskilling of the sector. But my sense is that there is a backlash against this, encouraging firms to focus on improving the quality of service and advice that their clients receive, and scrutinising very carefully for potential fraud.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk