How can you be a top boss of a law firm?
By Charlie Britten
11 Dec 2019
Being the boss of a law firm may be the height of someone’s ambition. But getting to the top is one thing; actually being a great boss requires plenty of thought, planning and a clear philosophy.
Everyone has their ideas of what they would do if they were the boss of their firm. But for those who do get into the hot seat, the challenges will be numerous and failure is not an option.
For those heading up a legal firm, there will be many challenges to stand out from the rest and help put your organisation on a strong footing to compete well with your rivals and go on doing so in the long run.
There are several steps you can take that could help you along the way:
- Take an infinite minded approach
- Have a ‘social enterprise’ element
- Use modern digital marketing
Utilise the ‘infinite minded’ approach
The concept of an infinite minded approach is based on the idea that business is an infinite game. In a finite game, such as a sporting contest or a game of chess, the rules are clear and there is an end point where the winner is declared. But business is not like that; the competition goes on and on, the rules can change and so too can the players.
Business writer Simon Sinek expanded on this idea in his book The Infinite Game and in a LinkedIn talk on the topic. He noted that businesses taking a ‘finite game’ view only care about the next quarter’s figures and lack long-term planning. Moreover, because everyone in the business is only looking to succeed and survive in the here and now, long-termism and trust are in short supply.
Mr Sinek warned that many firms that once dominated their markets have failed because of this thinking, whereas infinite minded leaders have found ways to bring about long-term sustainability.
A prime example he gave was that of Alan Mulally, who became chief executive at Ford in 2006. The car marker was in dire straits at the time, yet divisional heads would not admit to having problems because the previous boss would have fired them for doing so. Mr Mulally persisted in asking them to admit to issues and eventually one did - without getting sacked.
Mr Sinek noted that Alan Mulally’s infinite minded approach was to say: "you have a problem” as opposed to "you are the problem”. This change in culture created the trust and openness that allowed the firm’s problems to be revealed and then tackled, enabling the company to recover.
Your law firm may never operate on anything approaching the scale of Ford. But such infinite-minded leadership could still help you solve problems and adapt for the future.
Seize the social enterprise opportunity
Clients will not just buy into what a firm offers. These days, brand reputation matters more than ever and companies that suffer negative publicity, not least on ethical grounds, often find it hard to shake off.
Things you can do include:
- Linking up with a local charity
- Taking steps to make your firm environmentally friendly
- Refusing to deal with unethical suppliers
Of course, it may seem like good law firm PR to get involved with a few charities or make the office greener with some energy saving devices. But if that is just window dressing it will have less impact than a genuine sense of commitment and mission. This is why you need to become an authentic social enterprise.
Having a cause that you truly buy into will reflect in everything you do. It will become a key element of your firm’s story and will be very important to your marketing. In many ways potential clients will be as much interested in why you do what you do, as the service itself. After all, they will want to know that you are committed to being a force for good.
Leverage the power of digital marketing
As the boss of the firm you will be responsible for appointing a marketing team and giving them a budget. But while you can delegate specific decisions to them, you can decide to ensure you give your firm the best chance of success through using digital marketing.
Traditional marketing - especially in the SME sector - has given law firms poor returns on investment in recent years. However, digital marketing can be so much more effective by targeting your customers in different ways. For example:
- Using organic content marketing with search engine optimisation such as blogs is a great way of creating awareness of your firm and its services.
- Pay-per-click advertising is a very effective means of generating leads.
- Email marketing enables you to target different categories of customer according to the service they are interested in and where they are in the buyer journey - for example whether they have just registered an interest or whether they are on the cusp of making a buyer decision.
- Social media marketing increases your firm’s visibility and generates more interaction.
By using these and other digital marketing tools, you can give your firm a great chance of success.
How can you succeed by being different?
If you want to be a top boss in your law firm, there is no doubt you can’t stick with old, traditional ways of doing things. Whether taking an infinite minded approach like Alan Mulally, having a more social focus in your mission or deploying the most modern digital marketing techniques, the path to success as a leader involves being innovative and original.