YOU HAVE to be a niche specialist if you want to compete with the big guns, a Holding Redlich partner told Lawyers Weekly recently.
According to Holding Redlich Sydney managing partner Ian Robertson, you don’t have to cover every area of law as a medium sized law firm; you only need to be effective and thorough in the areas that you do cover. As Holding Redlich was best small law firm at the recent Business Review Weekly’s (BRW) St George Client Choice Awards, maybe Robertson’s advice should be heeded.
Although it won the small firm accolade, Holding Redlich is in fact a medium-sized firm, said Robertson. “They say we’re small but that just means you have less than 50 million lawyers,” he joked. But to be successful in this range of law firm size, he said, you need to be a niche specialist.
“In order to match the large firms you have to be niche focused… You have to be honest about what you do and what you don’t do,” he said. “We don’t do everything. We don’t have an insurance, banking and finance or shipping practice.”
The BRW award was handed to the firm after clients made their own anonymous nominations. According to clients, “[the firm’s] rates are lower, they use a good team mix and take instructions without trying to run away with a matter. They do not over service. For some non-legal commercial insights, they do not charge,” a clients said of the firm in a BRW report.
With 35 partners in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane offices, the firm puts a lot of effort into client services, Robertson said. He said there has been training in prompt response to telephone calls. As well, independent client surveys have ensured the firm is providing a service their clients are more happy with, he said. Although acknowledging things were not perfect, he said the firm made an effort to ensure the clients are happy.
According to BRW reports, the firm carried out its first client survey four years ago, with displeasing results. Managing partner Chris Lovell circulated the responses to the survey to all partners, leaving in the names of partners and areas that had been causing problems. He argues the partners were so embarrassed by this that they “smartened up”. Holding Redlich has just now completed its third client survey, using an independent expert. The firm now reports that clients are more satisfied compared to the first survey results.