Last week blogger Adam Smith, Esq. wrote that per partner profits at large UK firms are much lower than at large US law firms. It’s interesting to consider why and if technology plays a role. 

In a follow-up post, he offers explanations from several readers. The one I offered (and quoted in full at his post) is

“A possible explanation for the lower profits per partner in the UK is that clients in the UK are more sophisticated, demanding, less willing to pay high rates, and more insistent on budgets… If UK companies spend less proportionally on legal fees, there’s less money to go round. “

The other explanations are worth reading.

My sense, based more on anecdote than hard evidence, is that the large UK firms are ahead of their American counterparts in the application of technology to law practice and that the difference does not stem from spending a lot more on technology. I believe the explanation for the difference in profits also explains why the UK firms do more with technology: competition. It seems to me that the UK market for legal services is more competitive, which not only drives down price, but drives the need to differentiate service offerings and hence leads to more interesting uses of technology.