Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset to succeed
Joanna Oakey considers herself an entrepreneur first and a lawyer second. Such thinking is critical, she says, for boutique firm leaders to succeed post-pandemic.
Speaking recently on The Boutique Lawyer Show, managing director of Aspect Legal Ms Oakey said that innovation is “born not of coming up with the perfect idea the first-time round, but being able to try things again and again and again, until you hit on the thing that really works”.
“That’s where boutique practice suits entrepreneurial people. The entrepreneurial spirit has room to move in the boutique space, as we’re able to do innovative things,” she said.
If boutiques aren’t doing things differently in a post-pandemic marketplace, she continued, “you’re at a big risk of getting left behind”, she said.
“It’s a values thing. We owe it to the community that we’re in to use our position, to make a stand, to create something that is better than when we came in. The reality is that, even if we’re small, if we’re acting as forces for good, we’re going to create amazing outcomes,” she said.
“So, take the first step. It’s not that hard.”
There are two elements, Ms Oakey outlined, to thinking in an entrepreneurial fashion as a boutique firm leader: appreciating the work you’re doing, and understanding how best to market those services.
“Don’t accept processes that are in place – from a legal perspective, or the way matters are running or communication is happening – just because that’s how everyone has always done it. So, it’s about knowing what you are doing and how you’re doing it,” she said.
“Then, from a marketing perspective, being entrepreneurial by way of working through issues from their perspective, allows you to get cut through. My clients generally hate lawyers, and so I created a long list of the things that frustrate people about dealing with their lawyers and went through them, one-by-one, to understand how we could be different. Sometimes it’s more about perception versus reality, but at the end of the day, it’s our client’s experience, and their feelings matter. By looking at it from their perspective, I’ve been able to deconstruct the things that annoy them so that we can be different.”
Finding new and better ways to be entrepreneurial, Ms Oakey warned, is shaping up to be even more pertinent for those in boutique firms, given how the age of coronavirus has “levelled the playing field a bit”.
“Some of the more innovative things that boutiques were able to offer are now being offered by larger firms. So, what is it that makes us different then? I think it comes back to, in a large part, being able to be entrepreneurial,” she said.
“Being able to test ideas rapidly so that you can find the ones that work will be critical moving forward.”
To listen to the full conversation with Joanna Oakey, click below: