Why small is beautiful in an increasingly competitive legal market

Founder and managing director of Didlaw Ltd, senior solicitor Karen Jackson discusses the advantages being a smaller firm brings.

Size matters

In a world which is increasingly dominated by major brands and huge enterprise (think Amazon) being small but perfectly formed offers many advantages. There is already evidence to suggest that consumers are beginning to revisit smaller businesses (think farmers’ markets). Being small allows a client focus that many large organisations struggle to give. The John Lewis model seems to get it right but how many large companies truly emulate that model?

It’s all about the client

As lawyers, we tend to view our work as files or matters. Let’s get real: our work is people. Assisting people to deal with legal transactions or problems that they need our help to deal with. They need our expertise and we need to treat them as people not files. They also need to know that the lawyers dealing with their case are also human beings: personable, approachable, interested.

Getting the service right

Getting service right is something that smaller firms can do relatively simply, most of the time at no or low cost and which reaps rewards which can be massive. Delivering the same reliable service every time the client has contact with the firm builds a relationship of trust and reliability, starting with the very first person who picks up the phone. Once the relationship is secured firms can then have much greater flexibility about service levels and cost. Debtors can also be improved.

The awkward chat about costs

None of us likes to talk about price. It’s that embarrassing moment on a new client call where both parties go a bit quiet and there is a sharp intake of breath by the client. If by the time you talk about price the relationship of trust is established and the service promise has been outlined everything else will fall into place with greater ease. People know that to get a quality offering they should pay a premium price, i.e. “you get what you pay for”!

And what about technology?

Technology offers smaller firms huge opportunities to reel in overheads and focus on doing profitable work. The expression “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had” is apropos here. Why not consider how technology can save costs, increase profitability and make working life easier? It is amazing what is out there for the benefit of firms like us. And it can be more cost-effective than traditional ways of working which means, yes, better profits!

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