A new generation of legal clients is threatening to shake up the industry like never before, creating brand new challenges for lawyers.

New research commissioned by LexisNexis has highlighted the seismic shift in power between lawyer and client, bringing with it, a new kind of savvy and sophisticated client.

Bellwether 2015: The Age of the Client, has underlined the vast gap in perception between lawyers and clients, regarding good service. While 80% of lawyers believe they are delivering ‘above average’ service, only 40% of private clients actually agree.

“Clients have never had more leverage, but they are not simply looking for the cheapest solution,” explains William Robins, Operations Director at Keystone Law. “These days, smart clients understand legal services and are looking to match solutions to problems. For some, cost is the most important factor, for others, its service. But more and more clients are seeking a blend of flexibility, commerciality and value.”

For the law firm, “It’s time to innovate or die,” continues Robins. “Those who do so can expect to ride a wave of unprecedented client demand. For those who don’t, they can expect increasingly tougher competition and insolvency within three years.”

“Law firm owners need to be their own agents of change. It’s a tall order when fee earning would typically top their agenda, but no law firm can be without a costed five year investment plan. If you are not moving forwards, you are already moving backwards.”

“Clients ahead of lawyers, is hardly breaking news” he adds. “But what is new is that many lawyers are running ahead of their firms. Every lawyer with an active interest in their career needs to have a vision for the future. If they find themselves in a firm which is slow to change – perhaps held back by the partners’ agenda, fear of change or an unwillingness to invest, then they might be thinking that it’s time to move on.”

Based on interviews with 118 independent lawyers, as well as over 500 private individuals – the report is the third in the series and reveals how independent lawyers, small to midsize firms and sole practitioners are dealing with the new demands of their clients.