Jerry Pearlman’s letter (‘Lawyers should be “doctors” too’) suggests, in response to a recent Gazette article by Catherine Dixon, that we move to using the title ‘doctor’. But Mr Pearlman and I both already have the great privilege of operating under one of the world’s most highly respected legal brands: ‘solicitor’.
This brand promises rigorous training, a life-long ethical commitment, tight regulation and gold-plated indemnity cover. It is immensely powerful, respected around the world and earns the UK an astonishing amount in invisible exports.
What we lack is not a brand but self-belief. Look at your own firm’s website. Does the site sell the value of the ‘solicitor’ brand? Does it (other than in the small print) name your practice as a firm of solicitors at all? Do the online CVs of you and colleagues mention that you are solicitors? In most cases, from the smallest firms to the largest, the answer is ‘no’ to one or more of these questions.
The Society’s own website also fails to sell what the ‘solicitor’ brand promises. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is no better (even though its core job is to hold solicitors to account for compliance with those very promises). You will not see ‘solicitor’ on any list of major UK brands, despite it being one of the biggest and (being so well-policed) most reliable. The word is not even a registered trade mark.
Perhaps it is because we see the practitioner’s view of the brand (red tape, cost) rather than the client’s (world-class ethical standards, tough and continuing training, tight regulation, gold-plated insurance). Perhaps it is because we are not, at heart, marketeers. Perhaps we have all been around so long that we can’t see the wood for the trees.
Whatever the problem, it is time to wake up to one of the world’s best legal brands and to start marketing it properly.
Dick Jennings, R.D.Y. Jennings & Co, Malton, North Yorkshire