Introduction To The Law Firm Growth Formula


Who is this book for?

This book, and the formula contained within it, will work for anyone involved in the marketing of legal services. The marketing strategies and tactics I talk about have been used for law firms of all sizes, from sole practitioners to mid-tier and top tier law firms.

However, some of the specific elements of the book are aimed very much at the law firm owner. A law firm owner might work alone, or might employ a team of 20 to 100 staff in one or more offices, but the owner is the sole decision maker. Why do I specifically focus on this law firm owner? Well, you probably need to know a little bit about me to understand this better, so let me tell you a little about my background – and also about my impatience.

That part is quite critical.

My Story

I entered the legal profession later in life than most. My impatience caused me to abandon my ‘A’ levels after only one year. I was frustrated at hearing more and more theory and not doing anything with it. I wanted to get out into the world and do something. I’d had jobs from about the age of 12 and I knew that I was a good worker, because I was constantly being told that this was the case wherever I worked, from the lovely lady at the end of my paper round who rewarded me with a milky coffee and occasionally a cake if I delivered the papers to her hotel before 7 AM, to the hotel owner in Devon where I worked part-time but ended up being the bar and restaurant manager because I worked so hard and well, via many other jobs in between. I knew I could turn my hand to most things and I seemed to do them well, so I was keen to do something full time and earn a living.

So, I walked away from my ‘A’ levels, much to the disappointment of my parents, and went to work in a transport company, renting out articulated trucks and trailers. I worked my way up to the position of Southern Area Relief Manager, but really couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life, so I left to travel and see some of the world.

After spending some time in Greece sailing yachts, I returned to the UK in my early 20s and decided it was about time I chose a career. However, as I was impatient there was no way that that career was going to involve returning to education in any way, shape or form, and studying full time. I needed to be working at the same time as learning a profession. I settled on the idea of becoming a legal executive and then going on to qualify as a solicitor. Once I had reached this decision, I just needed to find somewhere to work.

As I didn’t have the patience to wait around for a recruitment company to find me a job, I hand-wrote 64 letters (I remember each and every one) to solicitors across the south and south west, and was finally offered an interview and then a job at a firm in Reading.

I began my remote Institute of Legal Executives studies as soon as possible, but at the same time I was keen to make myself useful at the firm where I was working. I set up a debt recovery department and quickly ‘learned by doing’ debt recovery and litigation. Once I had started working in litigation, I decided that I would specialise in personal injury claims, which at the time seemed to be a growing area of legal services (it was, but is not so much anymore). However, the firm where I worked didn’t really have enough work to allow me to do this. I could wait around and hope that that would change, but I think you know by now that wasn’t going to happen. When I was offered a job elsewhere, at a firm that agreed to keep funding my studies, my current firm surprised me by saying they would rather keep me, let me generate my own caseload – and provide me with a marketing budget.

Another of the roles I had undertaken before joining the law had been working in marketing for the former owner of a London advertising agency. I had enjoyed it immensely, so this was just too good an offer for me to turn down. It wasn’t that I didn’t like working where I was, it was simply that they hadn’t had the work that I wanted to do. Now that I was told I could create my own caseload and do my own marketing, I was a very happy man – well, most of the time anyway.

Which parts made me unhappy? Well, as I had a knack for marketing, I was soon undertaking marketing for the eight-partner firm across four locations. The parts that I found incredibly frustrating were the partner and committee meetings, where, in my humble opinion, nothing was ever achieved, or if it was it took about 300 hours longer than it should have done to reach a decision. I used to get so frustrated with the slow decision-making process that during one of these long-drawn-out meetings I actually prepared a dossier on how to run any meeting in less than 30 minutes and ensure you came out with decisions. I found it some years later and it did make me laugh.

My impatience was at the fore again when I started my law firm marketing consultancy in 2003, and I was quickly reminded of the frustrations of my practising days whenever I started working with any firm that had more than one partner.*

* If you are operating in a partnership where every marketing decision needs the approval of all partners, you absolutely have to fix this. My solution is simple. One partner, that is probably you as you are reading this book, is given responsibility for all marketing for one year. He or she is given a budget, and carte blanche to make decisions and take action. At the end of that year the other partners look through the results. If the marketing has put more money into the bank than it took out (by a ratio of at least three to one) then let them carry on. Problem solved!

Suddenly, what I had advised my clients was the best course of action would lead to a two-, three- or six-month debate, back and forth from meeting to meeting, about whether they should do what I was suggesting. It wasn’t that they weren’t paying me during this period – that wasn’t the point. My joy from doing what I do comes from agreeing a course of action, implementing it, and then seeing the results and my clients’ happiness with these results.

Getting Results

This is what drives me and keeps me going. The idea of taking six months to make a simple decision came close to driving me insane. As Einstein so eloquently said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes is the definition of insanity, so I knew that this could not continue. I therefore made the decision to work in a consultancy capacity only with decision makers: people I could agree a course of action with knowing that they would instantly say yes, and that if they did so they wouldn’t come back to me a few weeks later to say that their other partners had pooh-poohed our agreed plan of action.

These people are as keen as I am to see results, and as they are not shackled by other partners they are able to take fast action, often leaving their competitors scratching their heads about how this once-small law firm now seems to be bigger than they are, yet still has only one equity partner.

It is not that I don’t work in some capacity with larger firms; I do. I run AdWords campaigns for some of them, but only if the person I am working with has the power to make decisions on behalf of their department. I also have many larger firms that are members of my Marketing4Solicitors service, using my ideas to grow their law firm.

But in a consultancy capacity I will only work with someone who has the authority to make decisions and see them through to the end. My book is therefore geared towards them, because I know from many years’ experience that I can transform their firm for them, and make their life a lot more enjoyable.

Let’s look at how, shall we?

Michael Birch

Less than a year ago I asked Nick to help me grow our practice by making the telephone ring.

He’s certainly done that and much more.

The improvements are incredible and Nick has guided me through the many challenges of scaling up, not least the need for a client focused approach.

This has allowed me to start the next phase; organising the practice to ensure a better lifestyle balance for all of us, whilst we continue to grow.

Claire Johnson

Nick is a fountain of knowledge, tried and tested personally. He has that rare gift of not making you feel daft for asking any question. After our consultation I felt far less like a rabbit in the headlights and far more empowered to climb the marketing mountain successfully.

Iain MacDonald

Excellent consultation very practical and straight forward planning, positively and optimistically reimagining a small law firms prospects.

Carl Atkinson

I have enjoyed working with Nick over the past couple of years and his advice has helped me manage and improve the marketing of my business.

Nick has provided many helpful and practical suggestions to improve my marketing strategy and I am happy to recommend his services.

Chris Rennie

Nick takes a no-nonsense approach, cuts the fluff and gets straight to the point – which is an approach that you see very little nowadays in the world of marketing where you have many gurus with complex approach that most probably never work. I look forward to working with Nick.