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  • Michael Burne

How sustainable is the legal industry?

What does sustainability mean in law?

With the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference well under way, this month’s topic of conversation had to be sustainability. As governments from all over the world gathered together to discuss the wellbeing of our planet, we decided to put our heads together to consider the health of our own sector.

As a starting point, we looked at the definition of sustainability, which was “the ability to continue”. In the law industry, this could be perceived in a number of ways, from the ability of firms to continue obtaining PI insurance to the ability of lawyers to continue reaching billable targets. Yet, in an industry that’s rooted in outdated practices, how sustainable can it be and how long can it continue for? We now know our planet’s ability to continue requires change and the legal sector will be no different.

Analysing the sustainability of…

The legal sector

To begin, let’s take a look at the sector as a whole.

Currently the SRA-regulated legal sector is made up of 10,400 firms, with the majority relying on traditional operating models in place for decades or longer. The market is overcrowded, and even worse, it’s overcrowded with many firms struggling for similar reasons. While traditional practices might have worked in the past, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the industry cannot continue functioning in the same way. In the past year alone, the SRA has reported that 459 firms have opened and 556 firms have closed, as the industry continues to consolidate and seek new, viable business models.

Law firms

Next, let’s dig a little deeper into the sustainability of law firms.

As previously mentioned, the outdated business models being used by many firms are starting to have an impact on their operational abilities. However, for firms to continue offering their services to clients, they also need to put aside a huge amount of resources to maintain authorisation. From navigating PI insurance to appointing compliance officers, there are a number of hoops that firms must jump through if they want to carry on operating. As each of these conditions require resources and time, it’s no wonder that so many firms fall at one or more of these hurdles. Many law firms are simply re-inventing the wheel and wasting resources because their operations are sub-scale.


Finally, let’s talk about the lawyers, the humans at the centre of a sector that will have to change to survive and thrive sustainably.

It’s no secret that law firms are one of the most highly pressurised environments to work in. With long working hours and hard-to-reach targets, lawyers are often expected to put their careers before their personal lives. However, this expectation can have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of lawyers and has already caused many to experience burnout. Unless firms re-evaluate their expectations, it’s likely that lawyers will begin to leave behind these traditional practices in the coming years. Indeed the evidence of the “great resignation” is all around us while the result is a “war for talent”.

The answer to a sustainable legal world

For now, the legal sector continues to push through these unsustainable practices, however, whilst it does, law firms are closing and lawyers are struggling. Fortunately, there is a solution to achieving a more sustainable legal world.

The Bamboo Platform is a law firm operating system, which handles the regulation, insurance and compliance required to operate a legal practice. By freeing your firm from these requirements, we can save you time, money and resources, enabling you to manage your firm more efficiently and sustainably. When you join the Bamboo Platform, you will have complete control over your working hours, environment and practices, allowing you to establish a healthy work-life balance.

If you want to be a part of a more sustainable legal industry, join the Bamboo Platform. We’re here so that you can deliver legal advice how you want for as long as you want.


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