The Entrepreneurial Solicitors Struggle To Grow Their Law Firm

Which type of solicitor are you?

Steve Jobs Entrepreneurial Focus Quote
Steve Jobs with one of the clever, yet grammatically flawed, Apple marketing slogans which always makes me smile as well as think different (ly) when I look at it on my office wall.

Which type of solicitor are you in this scenario:

Are you the standard solicitor who worked at a law firm for 20 years before eventually being handed your own law firm to play with or did you go it alone and bravely set up your own firm – the entrepreneurial solicitor!

The 20 year route is how it always used to work, as we all know.

I never forget the look on the partner’s face when I was offered partnership at the firm that I had been with for some years whilst qualifying as a legal executive and then a solicitor only to turn it down to follow my marketing career.

Quite clearly he thought I was bonkers. There I was being offered partnership in a longstanding, established, profitable law firm and I turned it down in favour of a wishy washy marketing career.

However, when you are drawn to something as I was, it isn’t about following the path laid down for most others, it is about creating your own path and going after that.

I know that most of you reading this issue of The Nick Jervis Get More Clients Letter have made your own path too, choosing to brave it and start up your own law firm, or taking over an established law firm and running it your own way, rather than simply taking the old path to partnership.

This, in and of itself, however, creates some serious problems and challenges.

You are more entrepreneurial than most solicitors, which is great, because you see lots of opportunities.

The problem with this though is exactly the same as the good aspect of it – you see lots of opportunities and then you feel drawn, even compelled, to explore one and all of them.

I always remember Steve Jobs famous quote about this entrepreneurial struggle:

“People think that focus means saying yes to the thing that you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the other hundred good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

Ain’t that the truth?

There are so many wonderful, amazing, potentially life changing opportunities that you will find when you run your own business.

Recently, I have been going through a separation process with my longstanding business partner. It is a very amicable process but one that we both agree needs to happen.

We had a number of business interests together, from the claims company 1stClaims, to LawKits and my software, my third baby, Your Website Genie. I am pleased to say that Your Website Genie is staying with me, but the other items are leaving me, and that has given me such clarity and focus that I am refreshed and invigorated.

I now only have to focus on essentially two things – my consultancy business and Your Website Genie. I have reduced the number of products and services offered dramatically and this has allowed me to hone in on the ones that matter.

All I now need to do is constantly measure, tweak and improve the marketing of these services, then on the flip side make sure that my clients do the same for their businesses.

The second part is perhaps more of a challenge though, because those clients are the entrepreneurial clients that I talk about above.

They have lots of ideas for new legal services, enhanced legal services, non-legal services and a million and one other ideas rushing around their excited entrepreneurial brains.

“People think that focus means saying yes to the thing that you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the other hundred good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

My job, my challenge, my mission, is not to stop them from having these ideas or even acting upon them, but from not acting upon them until they have focused on the core part of their business initially and made that as superb as it can and should be.

I need them to drill down and focus on every aspect of their marketing and delivery of service taking place right now. Until they measure all of their core key performance indicators (KPI’s) and then put in place systems to improve them each and every month, they will miss huge ‘easy wins’ which will dramatically improve performance and profits very quickly.

I call this the “Bread & Butter Today vs Jam Tomorrow” syndrome.

We all have a fundamental need to house and feed ourselves and our loved ones. We have to meet this need each and every month. I have yet to persuade a mortgage company that the new idea I have is clearly world class and going to make me £10 million in 15 years’ time, so if they can just bear with me until then I can pay them back in full at that time.

They seem hell bent on being paid each and every month. “Nowt so queer as folk” as my lovely grandma Jess used to say. So I have to pay them each and every month without fail.

Which means I have to focus on the things that pay the bills this month and next month and ensure that each aspect of marketing of my services and delivery of my services is optimised and enhanced to provide the best results possible.

Only when I am doing this consistently can I move on to the next new, shiny and exciting idea that I have. Oh and I have plenty.

From my cricket bowling training aid to my Faster Plasters, from my Dinner Party cook at home range where everything is prepared and you just need to throw in the ingredients at the right time (clearly a good idea when I had it some years ago as it is now a range called “Scratch” in Waitrose) to my instant home gym which slides inside your garage.

I have lots of ideas.

I know I cannot act on these ideas unless or until I have really made the best of my natural skill, which for whatever reason, is helping solicitors to grow their businesses.

I know that when I am doing this I am in flow and in the right place.

I love the other ideas, but to chase them when they will take years to develop and thousands or more likely tens of thousands to develop is simply not a good idea.

It is the same for you too as an entrepreneurial solicitor.

Unless or until you and all of your staff are fully occupied and billing £200,000 per annum or more, your sole mission has to be to reach that point.

If you have staff billing only £70,000, you need to change that, because changing that will dramatically increase your profits. Dramatically.

If it is purely a lack of clients, you need to improve your marketing and conversions.

  1. Are you measuring every new enquiry, how many turn into clients and then working on improving each aspect of this process?
  2. Are you generating an increasing number of enquiries each and every month from your website?
  3. Do you have at least three automated and quantifiable, measureable and improvable marketing tactics generating new clients for you each and every month, and enough new clients to fill your filing cabinets (or virtual ones if you prefer) to ensure everyone can bill £200,000 plus?

If you have enough clients already, but the billing is still not sufficiently high, work on the following:

  1. Improve the processes for handling client matters so that your staff become more efficient with client matters; or
  2. Increase your prices; or
  3. Change your staff.

That’s pretty much it, isn’t it?

Focus on these issues before moving onto your shiny “Jam Tomorrow” projects and you will ensure that that mortgage company thinks you are their perfect client, and your clients will know that you are their perfect solicitor!


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