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Questions boutique firm owners need to answer

For boutique firms, the journey from establishment to growth requires a careful blend of vision, strategy, and execution. Here, senior partner Sven Burchartz shares invaluable insights into the essential considerations for boutique firm owners looking to expand.

user iconGrace Robbie 30 May 2024 Big Law
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Sven Burchartz is a senior partner at boutique firm Kalus Kenny Intelex, which was a finalist for the Australian Law Awards category of Commercial Team of the Year in 2022, 2021 and 2020. He was also the winner of the litigation category at the Partner of the Year Awards in 2021.

Speaking on a recent episode of The Boutique Lawyer Show, Burchartz offered valuable insights into the essential considerations for boutique firm owners as they navigate the journey from establishment to growth in the dynamic landscape of their industry.

Burchartz highlighted the fundamental questions that boutique firm owners must address to set the tone for their journey ahead and drive action towards their desired goals.


“The first one is, who do you want to work for and why? And then, can you? And if you can’t, how do you get there, and what sort of investment do you have to make?

“It’s actually about having a goal and a vision for what your business, what your firm is to look like, and then make all of those key decisions based on that vision,” he said.

At the heart of this vision, Burchartz expressed the necessity for a firm to pinpoint legal talent that will drive its business growth while stressing the significance of fostering a supportive environment.

“You start with that and then recognise that you will need to have good support, good lawyers with you, and that you bring them on the journey.

“You show them the potential for their own growth and development, and you actually do what you say you’re going to do because people do want to grow and develop and keep an eye on what your firm wants to look like from a product and from an image point of view,” he said.

Burchartz emphasised the importance of investing in unconventional resources because of their potential for significant rewards by drawing on his own experience.

“We have a person, Tiffany, who does work with our brand and our marketing, and she’s on staff. You might think a firm outside shouldn’t have a marketing capability, but I think, yes, it’s an investment.

“But I’ll tell you, in the last five to six years, it’s paid in spades in terms of our brand development, image, communication, the frequency of it, but it also gives an opportunity for your lawyers to become visible,” he said.

As boutique firm owners pursue growth and visibility, Burchartz reminded them of the crucial importance of maintaining profitability as a central focus.

“The other thing to focus on is to make sure you’re making money. And it sounds trite, but it isn’t. You’ve got to really be careful in terms of how much work you’re creating, the whip, how you’re collecting it, what your margins are. You’re in business, so work out what your profit should be,” he said.

Burchartz highlighted the invaluable support and insights provided by financial partners, especially banks specialising in professional services, emphasising their significance for firm owners.

“The other one that firms smaller firms like ours, your banks, particularly your banker. If you’re fortunate enough to have a bank that has a dedicated area within itself dealing with professional services, like accountants, lawyers, engineers, financial planners, for instance, and most of the major banks do have that, they are a wonderful source of information regularly.

“Talk to your bank, tell them what’s going on, tell them your plans, tell them you might need a little bit of money to go and buy a practice or invest in some technology. That’s the other thing. Invest. Spend money on your practice because it will improve,” he said.