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Lexis+ AI

Virtual Law Firms Surpass 2,000 Lawyers

Virtual Law Firms Surpass 2,000 Lawyers


Hazlewoods' research reveals over 2,000 lawyers now in virtual firms, driven by flexible working appeal

The number of lawyers operating within 'virtual' law firms has exceeded 2,000 for the first time, rising from 1,909 in 2022 to 2,042 in 2023, according to research by Hazlewoods, a firm specializing in legal profession accounting and business advising.

This growth in virtual law firms is attributed to the increasing desire for flexible work arrangements, especially as more traditional law firms are urging employees to return to the office. The shift towards virtual law firms allows lawyers to embrace self-employment while maintaining control over their working schedules and locations.

Some law firms have tied bonuses to in-office attendance, prompting legal professionals to explore alternative models that prioritize work-life balance. Virtual law firms, exemplified by established entities like Keystone, Setfords, Gunnercooke, and Excello Law, have proven successful in providing flexibility and control to lawyers.

The trend is not only a response to post-COVID preferences but also reflects a changing mindset among younger lawyers. Traditional career paths to partnership and retirement are being reconsidered, with virtual law firms offering an alternative that combines hybrid working with greater autonomy.

Ian Johnson, Partner at Hazlewoods, notes, "The rise of flexible working as an accepted part of the legal profession has been a real boon to virtual firms' recruitment." He highlights that the success of virtual firms has prompted some traditional firms to adopt aspects of their operating model, expecting more to follow suit for talent recruitment and retention.

Virtual law firms, characterized by decentralized practices where lawyers work remotely with shared central services, are gaining prominence. These services often include compliance, accounting, and general administration, with lawyers operating as self-employed consultants rather than direct employees. The research underscores the changing dynamics in the legal profession, with flexibility and autonomy becoming increasingly valued by legal professionals.

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