The New Dawn: Succeeding as an Independent Law Firm

Posted by Paul Hajek on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 @ 05:36 AM
new dawn succeeding as an independent law firmThe New Dawn: Succeeding as an Independent Law Firm is the title of a conference for law firms on May 3rd at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.

That, Reading FC, a premier league club in all but name, should be the venue for the conference is wholly appropriate with an enthralling forward line of speakers lined up.

I am delighted to be speaking at the conference on social media.

The idea for the conference was Joe Reevy's of Words4Business, supplier of legal content to many law firm websites, including my own at Clutton Cox.

Joe has freed himself from the rigours of supporting Exeter City, by fielding a star studded dream team.

How the team lines up

Jo's modus operandi for the conference has an important feature not normally associated with day long law firm conferences.

Speakers will speak on their particular specialities throughout the day, but the speakers will also be available for one to one sessions with delegates.

There will be 7, 20 minute sessions available with the speakers during the day on a first come first served basis.

Team News

Viv Williams, CEO of 360 Legal Group has helped with the organisation of the Conference and kicks off the day with "Planning the Strategy for a Successful Independent Law Firm"

Anthony Allen an accountant with South West Chartered Accountants, Francis Clark plays a holding role just behind Viv Williams with "Structuring for Profit"

Marauding down the wings we have two more speakers from 360 Legal Group, Sally Claverley with "Knowing your clients and meeting their needs" and Stuart Thomas on "Maximising Staff Performance"

And then that psychologically important time just before half time will be Richard Bretherton of Ochresoft and "Using Process and Technology to Compete in the Current Market"

The Second Half

No better time to score a goal than just after half time to rub home an advantage so step up "On line services" by Richard Cohen of Epoq -which sounds strangely like a prefix for a Greek football team,

Boyd Butler of Great Legal Marketing will use his commanding knowledge of every blade of grass of the Madejski stadium (he was Reading FC's  Commercial Director: Sales Marketing, after all) with "Taking it all to Market"

Joe Reevy will the "stiffen up the sinews" for an aerial bombardment (I'm guessing) with "Build influence (and business) on the web"

Then, peppering your defences with a classy, nimble attack with clever interplay will be me and my strike partner Julian Summerhayes on "Using Social Media"

Finally, you may think it's all over, but it isn't - as Guy Barnett of Lawyers2You will be available for penalty kicks with his eponymous talk on "The New Dawn"

A hugely enjoyable day which I am very much looking forward to, tinged with a little regret that I may not get to hear the other great speakers during the day.

It would be great to meet up with some of you for a one to one, but remember it is on a first come first served basis.

Back of the net!

Topics: high street law firms, social media for law firms, small law firm survival, Alternative Business structures, law firm websites, blog, tesco law

Quality Solicitors: for whatever life brings, but whatever next for other law firms?

Posted by Paul Hajek on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 @ 05:48 AM
[caption id="attachment_935" align="alignright" width="210"] QS chose Dancing on Ice to launch new advert[/caption]

The new Quality Solicitors advertising campaign was triple lutzed into the middle of Dancing on Ice on Sunday evening.

If you had a subsequent engagement or an aversion to the erstwhile Bristolian accent of Robin Cousins and missed it you can see for yourself here on YouTube "Quality Solicitors: For whatever life brings"

Law as an Emotion

Solicitors see law as black and white; clients see everything in 3D.

Quality Solicitors, flush with an advertising war chest of £15,000,000 (or so reports would have us believe) have set out to show how the law is an emotional journey for clients. A journey, where Solicitors guide clients through the beautiful and not so beautiful threads of life's rich tapestry - sadness to contend with, yes, but at least on completion days, the sun is shining!

The new advert is a breath of fresh air and inclusive: hitherto members of the great British public may be forgiven for feelings of ostracism for not numbering amongst those who have suffered an accident at work or been sold a duff policy within the last three years.

So a "hat tip" to Craig Holt, the founder of Quality Solicitors, whom we should commend for daring to sell legal services based around the emotions of life, thus avoiding the crass and lumpen ambulance-chasing approach.

Fear Marketing, but only for solicitors

The message for clients, is far from the plaintiff cry, Quality Solicitors first used to attract law firms to their cause.

One of my first posts on Solicitors Marketing Success (read the post here) centred on a Quality Solicitor advert in the Gazette "If Tesco Law wins will the last lawyer to leave Britain please turn out the lights". It also sported a sandwich man predicting “The end of the world is nigh: Legal Services Act 2007”

Craig Holt stung solicitors and law firms into action with deliberate shock tactics. Lay on the doom and gloom and law firms will start to take note.

The notion that revolution is born out of hope can for most law firms can safely be reversed. One can conclude that revolution can only be born out of despair: if you will, a lightening "Holt" was required

Shock and Awe

The shock and awe recipe seems to have worked and through Craig Holt's drive and charisma around 350 law firms have tied their futures to his Quality Solicitors mast.

Craig Holt has become a standard bearer for the solicitors' brand, although Craig's fervent wish would be predicated on an all important prefix.

The Threat of Alternative Business Structures (ABS) started the branding revolution.

ABSs are here to stay. There is no going back.

Law firms must work out how they will fight back against the gathering hordes of ABS vultures. Quality Solicitors is one route to the new legal services market.

The Law Society and Solicitor Quality

The Twittersphere has been a buzz with lawyers and legal commentators lamenting a lost opportunity. How wonderful it would have been for the Law Society rather than Quality Solicitors to have produced such an advert.

But, lest we deride the Law Society too much, the Law Society has been instrumental in trying to wrest the "Quality" from Craig Holt's grasp by its own Quality campaign.

The "Barry Norman" Effect

I recall in the cornucopian days of mortgage finance in the late eighties that there were two companies with similar names; the Household Mortgage Corporation and the Mortgage Corporation.

I can't remember which, but one was heavily promoted by BBC's film critic Barry Norman. In practice, from my anecdotal evidence from Conveyancing mortgage instructions, it seemed the main beneficiary was the other non Barry Norman mortgage company.

It remains to be seen whether the Law Society's attempts to stress the quality of all law firms will piggy-back the Quality Solicitor campaign and give a positive uplift to other law firms.

Strengthen Your Law Firm Brand

The initial and ongoing costs of joining QS will be beyond most small law firms.

But, what the new advert has done for all law firms is to give an impetus to change the way solicitors market their law firms.

Even the smallest law firm has a brand. And it's not what you perceive it to be but what your clients and potential clients perceive it to be.

You can develop your own brand by blogging; writing articles; self publishing; adding killer content to your law firm website and show you personality through social media

You can now more than ever before control your own message

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Craig Holt asked for help. He's bagged Saatchi & Saatchi.

Small law firms however will need to use their time and marketing spend wisely to ensure a sufficient return on investment.

And the internet is where small law firms should make their battle.

Law firms who use the internet to market themselves, show an understanding of how buyers of legal services make decisions, on which solicitor lawyer or law firm to instruct.

Clients and potential clients use the internet to learn about products and services that best meet their needs.

Whatever life brings for you as a law firm you will, without an internet presence, find it increasingly more difficulty to compete, survive and thrive.


Topics: small law firm survival, internet marketing for law firms, Alternative Business structures, blogging, blog, tesco law

Brands Won't Kill Law Firms, Clients Will!

Posted by Paul Hajek on Wed, Nov 09, 2011 @ 03:26 AM

Will brands kill law firms?
This was the provocative title of an interesting webinar last night by Jon Busby of Epoq.

Jon was joined by some Twitter friends of mine Employment Solicitor Michael Scutt of Dale Langley and Co and former barrister Amanda Bancroft, a self styled "digital native" and associate director at 41 Minds a digital agency

Jon stressed that this was not a product promotion, but a more general exaltation for law firms to get to grips with the challenge of providing legal services post ABS.

Scare or Share?

Jon's first deliberation was whether to share or scare, and I suppose that depends on whether your bottle is half full or half empty.

What is clear and unequivocal is that more people are becoming comfortable sitting in front of a computer screen or on the move with their mobile in choosing products and services.

The number is growing not just year on year but day by day: legal services will not be immune.

Jon gave the example of how Banks performed 15 years ago and how they now provide services which is a mixture of face to face and online.

The Banks are continually educating their customers in how best to use their services.

And the beauty of the internet for law firms large and small is that it reduces the cost to educate and share value amongst clients.

The Game of Change

The game of change, as Jon, describes it is, why law firms should be bothered.

 As Amazon move from selling books into publishing such shifts will inevitably happen in one shape or another in legal services.

Michael used the example of finding a law firm or solicitor through Chambers, but Amanda was of the opinion that Chambers is being submerged by clients choosing and researching their law firm via Google.

Research By Peppermint Technology

Jon produced some slides from research published by Peppermint Technology which I have already posted about in my blog Small Law Firms: Online is the New High Street. The interesting point about the survey itself was that the research was commissioned by a technology company and not a pure legal services firm.

Know Where Your Law Firm Is Going

Jon emphasised that it is important to decide which way your law firm should be pointing, or as I have put it "Skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been"

If your law firm is looking to its website to sell its products and services than how data is captured will be crucial. When making a Will e.g. a client may well complete an online questionnaire so  that a draft can be prepared ahead of a meeting with the lawyer.

Amanda made the point that clients do not at present expect much functionality from a law firm website, so law firms should spend less on the actual site and more time and money spent in promoting it and making it easier to be found. I agree as I posted in my blog "No one really cares about law firm websites: get over it"

Change will not be easy

Jon gave the example of 10 years ago of some shops on Oxford Street: John Lewis; Borders and HMV. One of those has thrived one gone out of business and one frantically trying to reinvent itself.

The "winner" John Lewis has survived and thrived by giving exceptional service to their clients face to face  in their stores but have also created a huge business online as well.

It would not have been clear which of those three would have made it. Some clearly thought they "owned the street" and were less imaginative in responding to trends. There is a danger of some law firms falling into this trap.


Face to face and online delivery of legal services are not mutually exclusive: law firms should take note.

Solicitors and law firms should think about unbundling and separating process from intellect.

This is where technology can undoubtedly help.

Jon's view was that a strategy of Bricks and Clicks rather than Bricks to Clicks is a sounder strategy for law firms.

And if you have already read my previous post on my law firm Clutton Cox website  What clients really really want  you will know I agree entirely.

Me: Clicks and Mortar; Jon Bricks and Clicks

You can follow me, Jon, Amanda and Michael on Twitter as @paulhajek @legaltwo @_millymoo @michaelscutt






Topics: small law firm survival, Alternative Business structures, blog, tesco law, law firm brands

Small Law Firms: Is Online the New High Street?

Posted by Paul Hajek on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 @ 03:00 AM
[caption id="attachment_430" align="alignright" width="191" caption="What Clients Really Really Want"]what law firm clients really want[/caption]

Not just my words, but also an interesting prediction from a new survey published last week by Peppermint Technology. The Survey was entitled “what clients really want from a legal service provider”

The survey was conducted of 1017 consumers aged between 16- 64 looking at “customer” attitudes towards the UK legal services market place.

A telephone and email survey was also carried out with 150 UK businesses and a telephone and email survey with 167 law firms.

The survey sample was segmented into three areas: consumers; businesses and finally law firms themselves.

The report is very useful in giving the latest insight into what clients expect and want from their Solicitors and law firms.

Needless to say the report will be read avidly by not just law firms but by other organisations eyeing up entrance into the legal services market.

How do potential clients find a legal service provider?

5 options were given and ranked accordingly.

The most popular overall was asking a friend for a recommendation (44%); followed by an internet search (24%); then referrals from professionals such as Estate Agents Bank Managers, Accountants etc; 9% would use their High Street as the first port of call and a mere 7% would resort to local advertising.

“Online is the New High Street”

Interestingly, one of the main findings of the survey was that clients of all types care very little about the physical location of law firm offices. Also highlighted was the importance of technology from marketing to online delivery.

The use of internet research as the default option continues to rise so that now almost 1 in 4 people will begin their look for a Solicitor this way.

The report suggests that law firms with limited marketing and advertising budgets would be better served by putting their spend into online media or inbound marketing as it is called rather than offline or outbound marketing.

The trick for law firms in my opinion would be to still use both but direct the traditional outbound marketing to the law firm website which then forms the hub of all online and offline marketing activities.

Peppermint Technology estimate that 69% of customers class online recommendations as trustworthy as a friend’s recommendation

What Factors were the most important when purchasing legal advice?

Consumers were asked if purchasing legal advice what factors were important and how important would it be to know how much it would all cost before instructing a solicitor.

Let’s get price out of the way first: only 6% said it was important.

But, and this a very big but for law firms 95% of consumers said knowing the total cost was important and may or would certainly influence their decision.

Those in the 45 -64 age bracket felt most strongly that it was most important with 97% saying so.

The number of consumers (or potential clients which has more resonance for law firms) will continue to grow.

The battle lines for marketing legal services on line, it appears to me are already being drawn up.

You can
view a video of the main findings of the Peppermint Technology report here or go direct to Peppermint Technology website to purchase the report for £49.99

Solicitors Marketing Success provides advice to sole practitioners and small law firms on how to use the internet to market their law firms effectively from creation of websites, web products, email marketing, blogging and social media.


If you have not done so already sign up on the right hand side of this page to receive our regular free blogs on how you law firm can get found online and convert potential clients into actual clients





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Topics: internet marketing for law firms, Alternative Business structures, blog, tesco law, Law firm

Skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been

Posted by Paul Hajek on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 @ 03:26 AM

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky, Chicago, Illinois[/caption]

Steve Jobs, at the Macworld Conference and Expo back in 2007, used the above quote from ice hockey superstar Wayne Gretsky to characterise the Apple philosophy.

Now that ABSs are here, it struck me that the quote was as equally applicable and germane for law firms.

Apple succeeded by creating products which it thought the public would want, not necessarily improving what the public already had.

Apple had the courage to create products with its own imagination: as in most endeavours not all were successful.

So will law firms be brave enough to second guess their clients needs and wants in providing products and services which as yet do not properly exist or are incompletely realised?

Although undoubtedly there will be other reasons, some law firms are at least having a go, judging by the rounds of merger activity. There is also a rush to the new umbrella legal brands such as Quality Solicitors and High Street Lawyer.

It may be that some law firms may have finally realised that cooperation and a willingness to “think outside the box” is a valid strategy.

“If I was going there I wouldn’t start from here”

But, I have a sneaking suspicion that the new entrants in the legal services market might have started shaping their service and client care propositions from a different perspective.

Jordan Furlong, in his blog “Rise of the Machines” in the new blogging section of The Lawyer magazine website this week puts succinctly, what he feels the new entrants in to the legal market will promote:

These companies manage processes. They leverage knowledge. They automate to increase timeliness. They systematize to improve quality. They streamline to improve affordability. And they relentlessly prioritize service and the client experience. Law firms don’t do any of these things because we don’t compete on speed, price, simplicity or service. To the extent we compete at all, we do it on “quality.”

The Internet and Opportunity for Law Firms

An obvious place where law firms can dare to be different and differentiate their law firm is on the internet.

Marketing and winning business on the internet simply was not an option for law firms until relatively recently.

What the internet can do is attract potential clients to your firm so as to allow a relationship to begin. Internet marketing and social media in general are scalable and capable of returning great ROI.

The internet will be the main battleground for finding and winning over existing new and potential clients.

For smaller firms the costs associated with joining an umbrella brand may be prohibitive. As an alternative your law firm will need to work out how to function and promote itself in cyberspace.

Local strength on Google and other search engines combined with enhanced services and packaging of legal services has huge merit for law firms looking for a likely solution to where the puck may go.

Proof of the Pudding

Who would have thought someone with whom we had not had any interaction thus far, could land on our website, like what they see and actually instruct us to act there and then.

It amazed me when it first happened on my Clutton Cox law firm website.

I still get very excited and it is happening every week.

The Final Mixed Metaphor

Where will you position your law firm puck in the near future?; will you be myopically content to leave it where it is now – right in front of your eyes!

Law firms are beginning to think differently and more smartly about how their legal services will be accessed and dispensed in the future

The worry for some law firms reluctant to change may be not so much a case of deciding where the puck will be but not even realising that  the ice upon which they are already on is dangerously thin.

Solicitors Marketing Success provides advice to sole practitioners and small law firms on how to use the internet to market their law firms effectively from creation of websites, email marketing, blogging and social media.


If you have not done so already sign up on the right hand side of this page to receive our regular free blogs on how you law firm can get found online and convert potential clients into actual clients


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Topics: solicitors marketing, Alternative Business structures, blog, tesco law, sole practitioners, Law firm, small law firms, Lawyer

Will It Be High Noon for High Street Law Firms?

Posted by Paul Hajek on Tue, Jul 05, 2011 @ 08:33 AM

"Will It Be High Noon For High Street Solicitors"

The Sunday Times, road into town this week, with an intriguing article entitled “High Noon on the High Street”.

The article in the Business section of the paper reported on the state of the High Street.

It predicted that thousands of shops will close their doors this summer.

“Retailers big and small are under assault from a rapid shift to internet shopping, a slump in consumer confidence – and from some chains having too much debt and over expanded during the boom”

The pattern of shopping is changing and so are our buying habits.

The internet has become the default way to shop for millions. More and more people research and order on line from the comfort of their own home.

The “Tesco and Chanel” model

Retail analysts are describing the phenomenon as the “Tesco and Chanel” model

There will be, they argue, at one end, Tesco selling pretty much everything at the other end the luxury high value high margin specialist retailers.

The conclusion drawn was that everything in the middle [of the High Street] was being squeezed and fighting for survival.

Parallels with High Street law firms:

It is not difficult to draw parallels in the legal field with law firms big and small and not just on the High Street; even before we take into account the introduction of Alternative Business Structures in October.

In the legal sector, we will see the big brands selling transactional legal services (after all the moniker Tesco law already exists); and at the other or top end, the magic circle of law firms as well as niche firms advising in very narrow areas of law.

The Challenge for Law Firms:

There will udoubtedly also be a squeeze in the middle for transactional legal services.

Merger may well be a reasonable aspiration for firms in small towns to even out the competition.

Ensuring you have a plan to counteract the threats is a bare minimum, yet it seems that over two thirds of firms are content, unaware or not concerned with the looming threats.

The Role of the Internet in Law Firm Strategy:

The internet is becoming increasingly influential in all retailing; who has not used Amazon to buy a book a CD or a DVD?

The internet can provide ease of access, growth and an alternative way to sell legal services. This will only increase in popularity.

What a law firm needs to put in place is an internet strategy and ways to offer legal services on line; at the very least make it easier to instruct your law firm on line.

We have seen at my law firm Clutton Cox a huge increase in on line instructions for our Conveyancing Service, which grows month on month.

The internet and internet marketing can facilitate your law firm competing on a level playing field. You website can be the hub of your internet strategy.

And you can start right away. There is simply no time to loose.

There is a whole new world of possibilities for law firms through the internet, and too numerous to mention here.

If you would like an insight in to how your law firm website can be the starting point of your on line strategy, download the report which Ed Rivis and I compiled entitled “The 7 Best Kept Secrets of Law Firm Websites”

Topics: internet marketing for solicitors, high street law firms, internet marketing for law firms, high street solicitors, blog, tesco law

Small Law Firm Survival: Take a Butcher's

Posted by Paul Hajek on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 @ 08:38 AM
butcher's hookThe legal landscape is set to change with the introduction of Alternative Business Structures in October 2011. Those solicitors who have recently attended seminars or read the legal press and legal blogs (I refuse to use the phrase blawgs) will have no doubt have had imbued upon them that “survival is optional”.

No one quite knows what will happen, but as Richard Susskind said recently, the new legal competition is unlikely to look anything we see now.

What simple lessons can sole practitioners and small law firms adopt and adapt to what has already occurred “on the high street”?

Butcher’s Hook:

The butcher’s in the title refers to the cockney rhyming slang butcher’s hook - “look”.

A butcher offers many different product lines, different cuts of meat, prepared meals, cold meats and many other examples.

Other butchers offer the same or similar. Some butchers have closed and some are surviving and thriving.

Here in Chipping Sodbury, a charming Cotswold market town just north of Bristol and Bath, we have two butchers.

But, not just any butchers, both are specialist high class butchers and they are surviving in spite of a Tesco and a Morrisons less than a mile away in Yate.

The supermarkets in Yate are also not new and have been there for many years.

Butchers who have bitten their own sawdust:

Dewhursts springs to mind.

What Dewhursts did was concentrate on the cheaper cuts of meat and discounts for bigger purchases.

From a marketing standpoint, they were unexceptional, run of the mill, unremarkable, inchoate and with no real USP: In the end no match and easy prey for the big supermarkets.

You may by now, be getting my drift: it would be easy to insert the phrase “small law firm” for butcher and Tesco for Tesco Law.

In order for law firms to survive, they must look beyond the ordinary, become exceptional and offer a service which would be difficult for the Tesco Laws to replicate.

Now is the time to nasal gaze and find the remarkable within your firm.

ABSs are coming: success as a law firm is entirely optional

Topics: small law firm survival, Alternative Business structures, blog, tesco law, sole practitioners