Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

How small firms can boost their reputations (given the looming recession)

Several firm leaders discuss the importance of reputation for building an SME firm and the best ways to build reputation in light of the looming (and potentially likely) recession.

user iconJess Feyder 16 March 2023 Big Law
expand image

“[An] SME’s reputation is its selling point,” Jacob Corbett, director at Bradley + Bray, told Lawyers Weekly. 

“Having a good quality reputation in your community is pivotal to an SME’s ability to draw work from multiple referral sources throughout the community.” 

Mellissa Larkin, founder and managing director at Peripheral Blue Legal, echoed the same sentiment: “Reputation is everything for SMEs.”


“Our entire client list has been built on the foundation of our strong reputation with clients,” she explained. 

“Demonstrating a commitment to deep dive to understand a client’s business, and investing in nurturing long-term partnerships with them is key to building a reputation as an SME law firm.”

How to do so with a looming recession

“With the idea of a looming recession, small-firm owners should be taking the opportunity now more than ever to create a stand-out reputation in the community, whether that be through a niche service, or through other means,” Mr Corbett highlighted.

“In respect to a recession approaching, look to the future now and get ready for how you might allocate your resources, and see what areas you want to place your time, money and efforts into for the time being.

“Once you have decided, start building your reputation in those areas now, so if and when the time comes for your firm to rely on those practice areas heavily, you are already well placed to take advantage of the work in the market.”

Keith Redenbach, principal solicitor at Redenbach Legal, also spoke to Lawyers Weekly.

“Pick an area you are the best at and focus,” he said. “Consider a perfect economic storm and develop areas of work [that] are recession-proof as part of your business plan.”

“Litigators might look at areas like insolvency. Drafters might consider areas like takeovers or reconstruction.”

Mr Redenbach continued: “Don’t ignore the reality of your circumstance, or your business [will] suffer. Plan or perish!”

Joshua Michaels, managing director at NDA Law, echoed the sentiment that in a recession, it is more important than ever to consider how one markets their firm and builds their reputation.

“Many clients are often looking to move from large multinationals to smaller, local firms with deep expertise in a recession, so there could be opportunities,” he highlighted.

“Making sure you have a plan and taking the time to build up your content strategy with blogs, podcasts and email content around important legal developments can be a way to showcase your commercial acumen and business understanding.” 

“Smaller firms can also make sure they continue to encourage the team to network, lead seminars for clients, and enter professional award programs like those run by Lawyers Weekly,” Ms Michaels stated.

“Getting younger lawyers onto advisory boards or committees can also enhance the reputation of the firm.”

Key tips

“It is incredibly crucial for SMEs to build a rapport with their audience and instil confidence in that service,” explained Mr Corbett. “And it’s actually easier than people think!”

He noted that one might choose to release blog and article topics and host webinars on specific practice areas to further their image as a reputable industry expert.

SMEs may also empower their team to do the same, Mr Corbett noted.

Mr Redenbach also gave some key tips: adopt tech early, get rid of negative energy in your business, and don’t walk past the standard you won’t accept — with anyone, from colleagues to clients. 

Develop your network carefully and with purpose, he also advised, offer the market something that no one else does as good as you do, and pivot when you need.

Mr Michaels also shared some tips: “Having good interpersonal skills is very important in SME firms. It creates a sense of trust, and that is crucial when building a reputation as a law firm of choice.

“It also builds word-of-mouth endorsements, which are the best way to grow your base,” he added. “Nearly all our clients have come to us in this way.”

“Other ways we build our reputation are through proactive thought leadership strategies,” he continued. “We are always happy to comment on relevant news stories that emerge.”

“Having good media contacts and using public relations should be something smaller firms consider if they want to grow their practice,” he said. “It means people know who you are, and it profiles the expertise of the firm.”