Business Skills? Don’t Be Daft I Am A Lawyer! What you need and why you need it
Beyond the Brief Limited, £24.95
Do you want to start your own firm or be your own boss as a consultant? Then this book is for you. Plenty of us do want to do that or have made the transition already. It is a sign of the times and the changing nature of the profession.
Over the 12 months to the end of January 2020, 542 firms opened; and in the 12 months to the end of November 2019, 606 firms closed. The number of firm closures peaks around the renewals period each year. I wonder if this means that most firm closures are forced. It would be interesting to know why firms close. About 20% merged in some way but what of the rest? Why did they close? What effect does that have on the public?
A significant number of us decide to start new firms. In the world outside law many new businesses do not last beyond a few years. This book is written to help with start-ups. The unique factor is the book has a – wait for it – Yorkshire flavour. The book has guidance on the necessary business skills to make it work. There are exercises to work out and the second half of the book comprises nearly 30 inspirational accounts in interview form by ‘Yorkshire legal stars’ who have started new firms. I cannot see that any of them opened legal aid firms! The legal aid contracting rules do not make start-ups easy and the bureaucracy and rates of pay are not attractive to say the least.
It is a good idea of the author to ask successful people how and why they did it, and what tips they can share. It is a truism that lawyers are often not very good at business. Often one gains experience the hard way. The book analyses the many different reasons for opening a new legal business. I was surprised someone opened their own firm to get more free time. I wonder how that worked out?
It is probably as good a time as any to do it. It is the age of the consultant, and new technology should make it easier. All of the Yorkshire stars run specialised firms. Their advice is sound. The sections on choosing a good business name, planning and outsourcing are helpful. Most people like being their own boss despite the challenges. The consensus from the Yorkshire stars is that if you are thinking of being your own boss, just do it.
David Pickup is a partner at Pickup & Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury