The Conversation

A blog by Kysen MD Clare Rodway, capturing interesting conversations she has in the course of her work...


24 September 2021



Legal marketing supremo Lara Squires thinks lawyers need to get a much better grasp of their brand positioning, to give them confidence in pricing themselves properly.  This is a major issue for the profession she says.  With a new competitive framework as firms and their clients prepare to pull out of Lockdown, she's worried there's going to be a race to the bottom in terms of price, with lawyers undercutting each other to win mandates.  

This is a topic we've visited before in this blog, in conversation with Vanessa Ugatti, who specialises in training lawyers to see their worth and price themselves accordingly.  For Vanessa, the issue is largely one of psychology and getting lawyers to see themselves differently.  Lara's take on the topic is that it's intrinsically linked to how a lawyer understands (or doesn't) their firm's brand.  

"Yes it's about the L'Oreal factor, and pricing confidently telling clients *they're worth it*", Lara says. And she agrees it's also about the Stella Artois positioning too, (one of my advertising faves), giving your customers comfort in being "reassuringly expensive".  "I often price myself as more expensive than competitors in a pitch situation, and then explain why I am more expensive, ie demonstrating how much more value I offer", Lara tells me.  "I do think there's a lot lawyers could learn from these consumer brands.  I often invite partners to compare their firm to supermarket brands, to help them get a handle on where they think they're positioned and where they want to get to. But there's often so much confusion within one partnership as to where in the market their firm is positioned.  In a situation like this, what hope does a firm have of communicating a clear positioning to its target audiences.  I had a classic example recently: a small firm of six partners, and when I took them through this exercise two of them said the firm was like Lidl, two said it was akin to Waitrose, one likened it to Sainsbury's and one Tesco."  Lol.  
 This confusion raises a huge continuity point about how the firm comes across, she warns.  "What are the partners communicating to the outside world if they have such different ideas about what the firm is? This is the real challenge and firms need to address it urgently: how individual partners see the firm versus how the world sees it.  Lawyers need to think about brand in terms of its importance in the story it tells about a firm.  They need to become much more comfortable evaluating the emotive aspects of their business and why people are drawn to them over other firms.  Retail brands do this so well.  Think of The White Companyfor example, offering lots of things that are white but not exclusively ... but ensuring everything in its stores and all the products they offer are clean lines and a kind of Zen living.  The difference between what Premier Inn offers compared to Boutique Hotels is clear for all to see." 
We can only dream of a time when law firm brands are so clearly distinguishable from one another as these retail brands.  But with Lara advising the marketplace, I'm starting to think that day will come a little sooner. 

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Nothing gets a busy PR team more excited than a request to support a client in their litigation battle,
especially when it involves a multi-million pound fraud, celebrity status and a police chase. Edmonds Marshall McMahon have successfully brought a private prosecution against Elie Taktouk who has been sentenced to seven years in prison on 11 counts of fraud relating to a failed property redevelopment in Knightsbridge. Their clients, Adrien and Frank Noel, were defrauded of £2.49 million by the tycoon who leveraged his reputation to con the investors into investing large sums through a series of calculated lies about the true state of the redevelopment.  Taktouk who failed to show up in Southwark Crown Court was later detained by the police at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel. Taktouk reached celebrity status after his wife Daniella Semaan,left him for the former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fàbregas. This case highlights why private prosecutions are a vital part of our justice system, at a time when the state prosecutors are struggling to investigate and prosecute for complex fraud. Private prosecutions are becoming increasingly more significant as they provide a fast and effective option for individuals, corporates and charities as state prosecutors continue to suffer from a lack of resources to investigate and prosecute complex fraud.

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There's been so much coverage of the vaccine question as life and work starts to return to some 
sort of normality, you'd think we'd all be tired of the topic. 
 (We've been placing employment experts here, there and everywhere in the press on these sorts of topics for weeks!)  But the Strictly vaccination drama made us all prick up our ears.  The BBC quoted strictly star Gorka Márquez, who claimed that reports that some professional dancers on the show are refusing to be vaccinated against Covid are ‘pure speculation'.  Márquez told This Morning that everyone is free to make their own decisions.  "You go in the streets right now and some people might be vaccinated and some people might not", he says. As the months go on, we're bound to see more of these ‘vaccination drama' stories, whilst business of all kinds increasingly grapple with the question of encouragement vs. enforcement when it comes to staff being vaccinated. We'd do well to remember it's not just the corporate world coming up against these challenges.  Watch this space, because employers are only going to need more guidance as we come closer to normality! 

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