Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sisman Nichols - R.I.P.

It is now over a year since I joined Keystone Law. Before that, I had been a consultant with Sisman Nichols Solicitors in Bristol for about 12 years. Although that consultancy had come to an end a little while ago, I still maintained friendly contact with the firm, and so it was a sad day when Sisman Nichols finally put up the shutters and ceased practising last week after close of business on 30th September. Most of my former colleagues have found berths elsewhere, and my planning clients had already transferred with me to Keystone Law.

Sisman Nichols was a small, friendly firm, but that ultimately proved to be its undoing, as it is becoming increasingly difficult for such firms to survive in the present day legal market. I am pleased to say that Keystone Law is a much larger and altogether more robust enterprise, which has nearly doubled its turnover in the past year. As our senior partner, James Knight, was heard to remark recently, “If this is a recession, goodness knows how we are going to cope with the workload when the economy picks up!”

It is sad to see smaller practices like Sisman Nichols closing down, but I am afraid the future really does lie with the larger firms like Keystone Law. Not that we are a faceless corporate giant – our clients really do get friendly personal service from their own solicitor, and won’t get passed down to some junior or trainee (because we don’t have any).

The next threat on the legal horizon is said to be the further ‘commoditization’ of legal services (so-called “Tesco Law”), but I am confident that well-founded legal businesses like Keystone Law, offering expert services in specialist areas will continue to thrive in the marketplace.


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