As seen in our 20th Anniversary report, DLA Piper’s Director of Business Service Delivery James Craddock is key example of a business services leader who joined law from the wider professional services sector. Using James as an early example of this shift, we took a look at the evolution of the professional services sector.
James joined DLA from PwC back in 2008, but we’ve only seen more of these cross-sector moves as demand for talented candidates long since outstripped the supply of the right skills and capabilities in any one sector.
In 2022, for example, 49% of Totum’s successful leadership placements were made with candidates that came from outside of law, a rise from 14% in 2016. We increasingly found ourselves working with firms and candidates across the whole sector, exchanging best practice and working with candidates offering experience from different types of professional services firm – as well as other industries too.
We realised Totum had grown organically beyond the strict confines of law. We decided to officially become consultants to the whole professional services sector at the same time as firms across the industry were starting to see their own opportunities in the broader advisory space. The distinct edges between different types of professional services firms became less distinct.
A big driver for this was The Legal Services Act 2007, which pushed open the doors between professional sectors. The deregulation of the legal market presaged the entrance of the Big 4 accountancy firms into legal services – resulting in combined revenues of $1.5bn from this side of their businesses in 2022. As Addleshaw Goddard’s John Joyce says, the Big 4 will continue to nibble away at the work lawyers do, no doubt reinforced by their belief they can better present the big picture and sell themselves. ‘Law firms will have to continue to adapt,’ he says.
But the legal sector has also made inroads into other advisory pursuits. There are many law firms that have launched subsidiary businesses and are offering new and complementary services across areas like HR, tax, management consultancy and actuarial services, cybersecurity and risk. More firms are, in addition, offering managed legal services to in-house legal teams, as well as charging for non-law services such as project management resource and/or technology support.
In our ‘Business Services Reward Survey 2023’, we found that 34% of respondent law firms now have business services roles that are fee-earning, transforming the traditional business model. For James, this represents a shift towards far more multidisciplinary teams working with clients in the future. ‘The old-fashioned view of partners, senior associates, associates and trainees is changing to teams that are a mix of lawyers, legal project managers, data scientists, legal technologists, etc. The pyramid is shifting, the hierarchy has changed,’ he says.
Moving our work at Totum out into the wider professional services space reflected this fast-broadening space and the fact that we were increasingly working with candidates, teams and firms spanning the ‘divide’. We firmly believe that this exchange of expertise and talent will continue to transform the shape and structure of the entire sector long into the future.
To read our full 20th anniversary report, click here.