Motus Recruitment Insights


What law firm leaders are saying about the opportunities for their firms in 2023

Whether calendar or financial, the start of any new year for every law firm brings with it a chance to focus on the months ahead, take stock and identify any potential opportunities.

Each firm will have its own challenges. However, there are likely to be certain crossovers and similarities between firms as they seek to navigate their way through the market.

In an effort to better understand what’s in store for law firms this year, we asked a number of law firm leaders in our network what they saw as the biggest opportunity for their firm in 2023.

The responses highlighted a number of key themes, in particular around growth, both in terms of headcount and market share:


For some, 2023 is going to be a year to double down on growth

Interestingly, and despite the potential threat of an economic downturn, several respondents noted they’ve earmarked 2023 as a year to capitalise on market (and any competitor) uncertainty by focusing on growth.

For one senior partner at an international commercial law firm, they see the coming months as the time to “run in to the storm”. They want to seize the opportunity to build out their teams in new areas if economic headwinds are going to slow down their competitors.

This sentiment was echoed by another managing partner who felt that a potential downturn would increase his firm’s ability to pursue a merger and team acquisition strategy, as other firms started to struggle with their finances.

A slight slowdown in the recruitment market has also created the perception that this will benefit firms on a strategic growth curve. One managing partner at a national practice indicated the firm had identified and earmarked investment in a number of key offices (in easier to recruit locations) across their network as growth opportunities.

In general, there’s an anticipation that the year will continue to be busy, and many are therefore keen to capitalise on this by getting the necessary structures in place to recruit well and maximise potential.


Others planning a more cautious approach to their hiring

While large-scale or focused strategic growth may be the plan for some, others were more cautious when it comes to market conditions and the economic uncertainties that still remain.

Although they feel the market’s not all doom and gloom, a number who were finding the market (and their activity levels) a little quieter, indicated their firms intend to take a more measured approach to recruitment. There is certainly a feeling that any recruitment would be considered and more “picky”.

“There’s less pressure on the dreaded talent retention and attraction”, said a management board partner of one of the UK’s leading law firms. He added that once activity levels in the market do reduce and salaries stabilise, there’s likely to be more opportunity to pick up talent down the line.

Others are focusing their efforts on strengthening in specific areas, rather than on firm-wide growth. On the one hand private wealth was mentioned by more than one managing partner as a strategic area of growth this year, whereas on the other hand corporate was identified by another of our clients as their area of opportunity this coming year.


Improving service and relationships is key to winning business

Amongst those who responded to the question, there was a consensus that getting their service right, staying competitive on their pricing and strengthening their client relationships will create significant opportunities to win new clients and new work this year.

For one managing partner at a regional law firm, they noted their plan is to increase their efforts to get closer to their referrers, clients and contacts to build trust and showcase the high quality and character of the business.

Others are focusing their efforts on their teams, with one partner at a leading global law firm telling us they are using the coming months to build on their recent success in the market, strengthen relationships with their staff and better support the work they’re doing to ensure recommendations and referrals continue to flow.