Putting heads together: Lexcel Financial Management & Business Planning Toolkit- Book Review
20 February 2017 :: The Law Society Gazette

There are around 10,000 law firms in England and Wales, half of which have annual turnover of less than £200,000. However, 80% of the legal market is provided through 2,000 entities, each with an annual turnover of at least £1m. This book also notes that such larger firms are well resourced, use IT well and are developing more professional forms of management. It warns, however, that any practice seeking to be successful must create, maintain and review its business planning and financial management.

The updated edition of this particular toolkit sets out Lexcel’s succinct requirements for structure and strategy, including requiring a legal practice to have a strategic plan. It then goes on to explain how to plan, covering possible headings and questions to consider, and setting out various analyses. The book includes a staff questionnaire, enabling firm-wide input to be gathered to feed into the plan.

The chapter on post-recession strategy explores the advantages and drawbacks of size and options for growth, with a section on key performance indicators.

Appendices at the end of each chapter feature templates such as a marketing plan. These documents, which can be adapted for your own use, are provided on the book’s accompanying (free) CD-ROM. Particularly useful are the downloadable budgets, cashflow forecasts and variance analyses in their respective sections.

Can this book help smaller and larger firms? Lexcel information states that the scheme is appropriate for all types and sizes of practice, and says that it is particularly important for sole practitioners ‘as they are perhaps under the most pressure to work harder, faster and smarter’. Indeed, a sole practitioners’ guide has been created to highlight the different compliance implications.

Whether or not you are interested in obtaining the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark, this guide is very useful indeed.

Tony Roe is a family law arbitrator and principal of Tony Roe Divorce & Family Law Solicitors, Theale, Reading. He is also a member of the Law Society’s Family Section and Small Firms Division committees.

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