• Driving Success in Your Law Firm: revolutionising the client journey
  • Eddie Ross and Sally Holdway
  • £69.95, Law Society

There must be an easy way for solicitors firms to be successful. But what is success anyway? Is it doing the work you want to do because it is important, or is it just about money? I imagine most of us would say professional success is just as important as financial success.

Rarely, if ever, do we get books written by solicitors saying how they became successful. There are a few biographies, though, written by celebrity lawyers. One of the best biographies is The Art of the Loophole: Making the Law Work for You, by Nick Freeman. He is an example of a highly successful solicitor who discovered a niche area of law, mastered it, found it fascinating and works all hours. And there were plenty of biographies written by barristers in the first half of the 20th century about the celebrity cases of their day – the golden age of murder.

Since then there have been plenty of firms that have sought success by opening too many branches, concentrating only on one area of work, or which found a new model of working which everyone else had ignored. Many have come to a sticky end.

This book, aimed at small to medium-sized firms, contains much good material. It stresses the importance of the client’s perspective, the need for clarity in everything, making life easy for clients by simplifying how to contact and instruct us, and being clear on fees. Moreover, it is vital to know what the competition is, how it attracts clients and to think about our place in the community.

The book aims to help devise strategic plans and explains the four key stages of a client journey: attracting, convincing, delivering and keeping them. It contains chapters by different authors who are experienced in various aspects of management.

I am, however, unclear why this book is referred to as a special report. I am unconvinced by some of its arguments. For example, there is a large section on the importance of branding. Yes, brands are clearly important to the likes of Coca-Cola, Virgin and Tesco, which spend much time and money on them. But how does this relate to solicitors? Yes, we have individual characteristics but is that a brand? Is it preferable to say that firms have reputations? You cannot buy a reputation or choose the one you want. Professions are different to other organisations which have brands.

Much of this books reads like a brochure for various specialists. There are vignettes by ‘outside speakers’ – but there is little of substance in what they write. Considering the fact that staff salaries are the biggest expense and that staff perform a vital role, there is not enough on how to manage them or get the best out of them.

The book overlooks the fact that many firms’ clients do not choose their lawyer at all and many clients never visit or even see the office.

Success is not simply a matter of increasing work and numbers of clients, because there are good and bad clients and good and bad work. A struggling firm needs marketing advice and more IT to grow, but cannot afford it until the capital comes in. What is more, firms that want to be more successful are likely to be on a strict budget.

My reservations aside, there will be something of use in this book for everyone. Even old fogeys need to be challenged and motivated. It is easy to get set in your ways – and the ability to see our firms through our clients’ eyes is essential.

David Pickup is a partner at Pickup & Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury