A recent article in The Lawyer (18 February 2013) focused on innovation in smaller law firms. I have summarised the ways in which the featured firms achieved their innovation:

Anthony Collins (£14.4m, Birmingham) – Niche in social housing, health and social care, local government, education and faith communities.

Flint Bishop (£9.4m, Derby) – From 2004 online conveyancing services to fixed fee employment services, access to templates and “how to” video guides, sale of solicitor packages in packets of 12, 24 or 36 hours and niche employment law advice for education sector.

Goodman Derrick (£10.5m) – Lateral hires secured large transactional work.

Harper Macleod (£19.2m) – Retained and redeployed around 20% of its corporate, real estate and private client lawyers into insurance, debt recovery and insolvency.

Keystone Law (£11.2m) – Dispersed law firm – 118 consultant solicitors working from home using document assembly and collaborative technology.

Kemp Little (£8.9m) – Boutique TMT/technology practice and provides free face-to-face advice to start up technology companies.

Matthew Arnold & Baldwin (£15.8) – Flexible pricing model for large corporations attracting transactional work and creation of Pharmaceutical Industry Networking Group.

Taylor Vinters (£16.2m, Newmarket) – Technology focus, originally on Cambridge Science Park and then opening in London and Singapore.

Veale Wasbrough Vizards (£21.3m) – Mergers to enter London (from Bristol) market and lateral hires with a focus on public sector market.

Wiggin (£12.4m) – Media boutique created its own technology incubator in East London and has its own executive producer group. Launched its own content protection business.

All examples show an early recognition of impending market changes and positive action to change in anticipation. Apart from Flint Bishop where new service development dominates, the core element of most of the strategies is a focus on core markets in order to create real differentiation.