Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Piper Alderman chairman of partners Gordon Grieve (pictured) said the current legal landscape in Australia is challenging, flat and competitive.
“It is fair to say that over the past few years, the Australian legal profession has been impacted by a number of internal and external forces,” Mr Grieve said.
“However, more prevalent this year has been increased competition, clients’ demand for greater value, cost pressures, the growth of in-house teams, retention of talent as well as attracting new talent.”
Mr Grieve said the competition for work among law firms will continue in 2016, and the ones that succeed will be the ones that embrace change.
“The legal landscape in which we operate means that law firms cannot simply maintain status quo, and those that do will be at their own peril. Clients are embracing smarter ways of working and in turn are looking to law firms to follow suit.”
Sue Kench, King & Wood Mallesons' managing partner, Australia, echoed these thoughts.
“The speed of change and disruption was a theme that dominated in 2015,” Ms Kench said.
“The impact of technology, data, changing consumer behaviour and new market entrants is not just impacting our clients, it is reshaping the legal industry. The firms that adapt and embrace disruption will be successful.”
Ms Kench believes that competition between all firms will continue to accelerate in the year ahead.
“The most successful law firms will be the ones who can turn disruption into opportunities. Firms that stay at the forefront of developing trends and become the centre of information and innovation will help their clients compete and grow.”
Ms Kench also felt the market was flat in 2015, with the exception of the M&A market, which recovered slightly due to economic conditions and will continue to do so in 2016.
“Low interest rates, increased market certainty and the fall of the Australian dollar have all made Australia an attractive place to invest, and this has been reflected in the volume of M&A deals, particularly towards the end of 2015,” Ms Kench said.
“We are continuing to see high levels of foreign investment into Australia, particularly within the agribusiness and real estate sectors. This trend is certainly set to continue, particularly with the ratification of the China – Australia Free Trade Agreement towards the end of last year.”