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A Tale of Two Cities: one firm grows strongly as the other stalls (6th August 2013)

Compare and contrast the approach taken by two different firms in their family law marketing and the growth of those teams. One is in Adelaide, the other in Melbourne. Both firms are of a similar size and undertake a range of ‘typical’ legal services.  This is not about a Charles Dickens’ novel but ironically the approach taken by one firm could well be described as Dickensian.

The Adelaide firm currently has two and a half people doing its family law.  One of the partners does about half his time on this area but the team leader is really an up and coming lawyer within the firm and the third lawyer is junior.

The Melbourne firm currently has four, led by an Associate with three others having less experience.

Fast forward 12 months from now.  I predict the Melbourne firm will have (or could have) about 10 solicitors in their team but the Adelaide firm will still have 2 and a half.  If you consider the revenues that flow from that, assume that each solicitor delivers say $300k pa in revenue, then by adding another 7.5 x $300k represents $2.250m.

This has nothing to do with the cities themselves.   It has everything to do with the attitude within the firm and the way the firm is managed.

The Adelaide firm pays lip service to the allocation of time for non-chargeable things such as marketing or precedent creation and so on. Because no importance is placed on these non-chargeable factors, the solicitor has previously said (and I predict will continue to claim) he does not have time to devote to any marketing. Consequently, the family law marketing plan will be stalled. 

There is no marketing culture within the firm and next to zero emphasis placed on the value of marketing by its leaders.  So each month I expect to be given a series of excuses as to why the firm’s family law marketing has not been done. The firm will not grow, the family law file openings will remain stagnant and its staff will not change in number. If I was an up and coming family lawyer in this firm I would not stay.  Why should I? There won’t be any future there and certainly no bonuses.  The partners and team leader in family law will hold on to their jobs and when work declines will shed staff.

The Melbourne firm will grow, in fact growing will be the biggest problem they will have. They have such a clear focus on marketing and the important management structures that need to be in place behind it. They have a budget of marketing time set aside and there are consequences in place if the marketing is not done- just like the billings. When I told this young associate that I thought they would grow to ten, she was shocked but after we chatted, understood why that would happen. She is not motivated by money, nor does she have a big ego. However, in contrast with her Adelaide colleague she will get a large bonus each year and be in a ‘going places’ firm.