Business owners and leaders – what does success mean to you?

By Adam Kerr, Managing Partner

I don’t know how you feel about law firms aiming to outdo each other with news releases boasting of “multi-million-pound turnover growth”, staff numbers sky-rocketing, eyeing “expansion to achieve global domination” …that sort of thing.

I’ve seen quite a bit of it in the media and online recently and, I’ll be honest, that kind of self-congratulatory rhetoric isn’t really my kind of thing. It feels like something from 1980s Wall Street.

I often ask myself: “Do clients really care about all that stuff?”, and I think the answer – from most – would be a resounding “no”.

So, it got me thinking about what the genuine measures of success are that matter most to clients? Not just ours right now, but to any company CEO, head of legal or leadership team who may need to use a specialist law firm like ours.

Quietly understated

I’ll say now that big boasts like some of those above, which tend to be from more traditional firms, aren’t on my list. I like to think we’re far more quietly understated at Primas.

Instead, I think that the key things clients really care about are: simplicity (in terms of both process and costs), creativity, expertise, collaboration and – all importantly – outcomes.

I’ll aim to deconstruct why I think this is, but I have been thinking a lot about it recently as we conclude another strong year for the Primas teams in Cheshire, Manchester and London.

It’s been a good 2018/19 for many reasons – tangible results like new client wins or team achievements – but I think the key reasons align to the client priorities I outline above, and it means we have a fantastic platform to build upon in 2019/20. 

Delivering simplicity

Lawyers can sometimes be masters at adding layers of complexity to situations, rather than reducing them. But I think the best law firms are the ones that work hardest to make life simpler for clients, and we’ve worked hard to find smarter ways to do that at Primas.

We take on some pretty complex cases – some many other law firms would, and do, pass at – but despite such complexity one of the things that our team here do really well is simplify the complicated. All we really need to understand is what our client wants. Then it’s our job to find a way to achieve it.

They also don’t want to break the bank doing it, so we’re working harder to find better, smarter and simpler ways to work, including fixed pricing models, so we mitigate financial risk and exposure for them everywhere we can. Clients are demanding that more – rightly so – and we’re adapting to this by evolving our pricing, particularly around litigation, and more robust case analysis upfront.

Expect to hear more about this in 2019 or contact the team or myself to discuss it and we’d be happy to chat over a coffee …on us of course!

Building the best team

In terms of creativity and expertise, I think these go hand in hand. As I say, our job is to help our clients realise their objectives, but to do that you need fantastic people – the right combination of experienced leaders; dynamic, smart lawyers and solid back office teams – delivering outcomes.

Many law firms focus on big teams and large volumes of work – often mystifying their clients in order to justify their fees. I know this because we’re often sat opposite huge teams from expensive London and big city agencies.

However, when you focus on driving the right outcomes for clients like we do, then it cuts through all that. But it does mean you need to have more creative ideas than the other guys, think about things differently and ensure you’re putting the right quality of people in their corner.

I think, for us, this is where we’ve achieved enormous success over the last few years, hiring some of the smartest and most creative and hungry talent in the business.

I’m proud to work alongside our team and to see them flourish and grow. I know that this is where we have the potential to ‘win’. No business strategy – or legal argument – can truly work without the right people in place to deliver it. Maintaining and building upon continues to be at the heart of the firm’s strategy and focus in 2019/20.

Collaboration and outcomes

Whether it’s a real estate, litigation or corporate and commercial case, we’re always focused on the outcome. Being clear upfront about our clients’ aims focuses our effort on the end game and makes for a simpler, more cost-effective process, and I believe our clients really acknowledge that about us.

Achieving success – the desired outcome – then breeds a level of trust and mutual respect between our team and our client, and that is true collaboration for me. I like to hope our clients see us as an extension of their team, we certainly feel that way, but also that they can trust us to make what we feel are the right calls for them. Ultimately, their success is our success and we can celebrate that together.

My colleague Simon mentioned in a blog recently that he thought that 2019/20 was a potential game-changing year for Primas. It could very well be if we can achieve in line with our ambitions. But we’ll only achieve that if we focus on the things our clients – and prospective clients – really care about.

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