THE UK legal services market is in a state of flux. The provisions of the 2007 Legal Services Act started to come into effect in 2011 to allow the establishment of alternative business structures, which effectively meant non-lawyers in professional, management or ownership roles could offer regulated legal services in England and Wales.

While that may not seem cataclysmic to outsiders, it has shaken up the market and prompted firms toenter into strategic alliances to enable survival in a competitive market. Some of these, with the benefit of hindsight, appear to have been arranged in haste, proving that while entrepreneurial flair is important, it needsto be tempered by logic and commercial acumen.

We are not in the habit of knee-jerk reactions at SAS Daniels and, anticipating the change that we are now experiencing, have been planning and devising our own strategy. We have given great thought to our market positioning, using our knowledge of the local landscape and the context of wider changes across the UK.

We recognise that innovation and diversification are major factors in a firm’s success. While other firms may have rested on their laurels and looked back on the profession’s roots embedded in tradition, we have remained firmly focused
on the future. We took the time to review what makes us different: pricing models, specialist expertise and having the right HR and recruitment strategy to secure great people who fit with our culture. Reviewing pricing models was driven by us, making sure that they are geared towards the client – this is, after all, the age of the consumer.

Our mission and values support a compelling strapline

– No ordinary law firm – and this runs through the very core of the firm and is embraced by our teams to ensure a memorable and refreshing client experience.

It’s not been change for change’s sake. It’s about an authentic approach that ensures we stand out and acknowledges the shifting market we find ourselves in. It sounds like a damning statement but for years we have been aware of the need to be different and unfortunately, some firms have fallen on their swords having failed to reinvent themselves or respond in any way to what is happening in the market.

We understand that clients want business efficiency, operational transparency and flexible fees, matched by outstanding quality. Our commitment to delivering this is illustrated by a range of dedicated strategies, from going paperless and stripping out waste from our workflow to ensuring we speak in plain English and take an approach that binds trust with the client to ensure we’re on the same page.

We’re also keen to take client feedback and ensure it is a two-way conversation – it’s a sure-fire way of staying on track when it comes to not only meeting, but surpassing, client expectations.

This concerted effort to be at the vanguard of change has paid off for the firm so far. We topped £7 million in annual billings in the year to April 2014 and also had a record first quarter of fee income this year, driven by some strong growth across our specialist teams.

With a growing team of over 70 legal advisors, including 23 partners, SAS Daniels operates out of offices in Stockport, Macclesfield, Chester and Congleton. We have a keen eye
on client experience when it comes to our office locations. Having deliberately chosen sites outside of Manchester city centre, we pride ourselves on serving the areas in which we’re located, ensuring value is passed on to the client, while maintaining exacting standards.

This year will see the relocation of both our Macclesfield and Congleton premises, to Churchill Chambers and Riverside respectively, which will enhance both the client and employee experience with airy, Wi-Fi-enabled quality meeting spaces, free client parking and contemporary, open plan settings to optimise collaborative working.

The changes we’re experiencing in the market are fundamental, not cyclical, and they will certainly have a knock-on effect on other businesses. It’s true to say that people are buying legal services in all sorts of ways. There are certainly opportunities opening up in the market and the explosion of digital means that people are increasingly buying online.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a threat to law firms;
in fact, it’s a real opportunity to show differentiation and
find a place in what is a competitive market. It’s about being agile and innovative, which is not always an easy task for the bigger boys. Larger firms that are associated with tradition and heritage can prove to be akin to oil tankers when it comes to adapting and evolving. I think we strike a good balance between having heavyweight expertise and dedicated teams, while being able to make significant and lasting change in a short space of time.

The market for services isn’t diminishing, it’s actually growing. The key to establishing market share is in the ability to offer a relevant proposition to the client, underpinned by passion and purpose. It’s about challenging the accepted while ensuring that the client remains at the heart of everything we do. It’s also about doing things differently and in a way that makes the client think “Well we didn’t expect that”. The last thing we want to be is ordinary.