I first opened the doors to the offices of Major Family Law on the 1st of April, 15 years ago. Prior to that I had worked from home for a few months while I waited to get the obligatory leases signed up. Starting a law firm from a standing start was a journey that began with a leap of faith, armed with nothing but determination and a vision for what could be.

Over the years, this endeavour has grown into a successful practice, offering countless lessons along the way. Here are some of my suggestions for anyone considering or beginning this journey of self-employment.

Start with a Solid Foundation, know where your work will come from and have a clear vision of what you wish to achieve.

Before diving into the legal intricacies of starting a firm, it’s crucial to have a clear vision and a robust business plan to fall back on. This plan should outline your area of specialism, how you intend to target your client base, financial projections, and growth strategies. Early on, I realised the value of this foundation—it not only guided the firm’s direction but also helped in securing initial financing and attracting the right talent from the get-go.

Build a Strong Network

Relationships are key to growth and support. Networking is invaluable, not only for client acquisition but also for professional support and advice. I formed alliances with respected, more experienced leading Counsel who guided and mentored me over the years, and I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone in attending industry and networking conferences. I was also an early embracer of social media, which was all rather low-key back then, but it helped me stand out from other more established firms who tended to opt for more traditional paths of securing new client work. I found mentorship and seeking peer advice critical in navigating early challenges, from operational bumps in the road hiccups to strategic decisions.

Client-Centric Approach

The client’s interest is paramount, and the success of a law firm hinges on its ability to serve clients effectively. From the outset, prioritising client needs, maintaining open communication, and ensuring accessibility have been fundamental. This approach not only fosters loyalty but also encourages referrals, which are invaluable for growth. We achieved this with the creation of a – different – office environment – a reception area that was more akin to a calming spa than the traditional corporate style of premises.

Embrace Technology

Technology enhances efficiency and service quality. When I started out, legal tech was just gaining momentum. However, early adoption of technology helped set the firm apart, enhancing efficiency and client satisfaction. Staying abreast of technological advancements and being nimble to change and innovation remains a priority, as it continually shapes the way we practice law.

Financial Management

Prudent financial management is the backbone of a successful firm. Understanding the financial aspect of running a law firm was a steep learning curve. Effective budgeting, cash flow management, and financial forecasting are vital. It’s essential to set realistic financial goals, monitor expenses closely, and plan for contingencies.

Cultivate a Supportive Team Environment

A firm’s strength lies in its team. Hiring the right people and fostering a supportive, inclusive culture has been key to our firm’s success. Encouraging ongoing education, professional development, and recognising individual contributions has helped in retaining talent and maintaining a high level of service and many of our team have built their careers at the firm.

Resilience is Key

Adaptability and resilience are your greatest assets. The legal landscape is ever evolving, with new challenges around every corner. Whether it’s changing laws, economic downturns, or the global pandemic, the ability to adapt and persevere has been indispensable. Embracing change and learning from setbacks have been crucial to our firm’s longevity.

So, reflecting on the past 15 years, the journey of starting and growing a law firm has been both challenging and immensely rewarding. The lessons learned along the way have not only shaped the firm but also personal growth and professional development. For anyone embarking on this journey, remember that success is a blend of vision, hard work, and the continuous pursuit of excellence. My advice is simply be the best that you can be by all the means you can.

Major Family Law in 2009:

Major Family Law in 2024: