3 firms before 33: How this lawyer did it
A “no frills” approach has led one young lawyer to make her mark in Queensland, establishing three offices in her early 30s.
Thirty-two-year-old Courtney Lockett has decided to forgo the “traditional model of blue chip and top-tier law firms” by setting up a chain of local legal practices across suburban Queensland.
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So far, Ms Lockett is the principal and owner of three Lockett McCullough Lawyers legal practices. She opened her first in Toowong four years ago, followed by an Albany Creek practice and then Noosa earlier this year.
Collectively, Lockett McCullough Lawyers now employs a team of 12, serving upwards of 3,000 clients a year, according to Ms Lockett.
“Going out on my own has allowed me to reach my potential and have the best of both worlds – constantly improving my abilities as a lawyer and also being a business owner,” she said.
“My goal is to ensure everyone; ordinary Australians have access to sound legal advice. Everyone needs a lawyer at some point in their life and I hope that our boutique offices offer a comfortable environment for clients to make decisions regarding their legal matters.”
Ms Lockett said launching her boutique offering has allowed her to make her own mark on the profession by offering a “no frills legal service”. She encouraged other young lawyers to consider doing the same.
“We need more lawyers working outside the old institutional model,” she said.
“You can achieve amazing things running your own legal practice.”
Ms Locket’s top tips to those wanting to start their own practice:
1. Decide on your niche
Understanding what drives you as a lawyer is paramount in setting up your own practice, Ms Lockett noted. For example, she’s passionate about everyday mums and dads having access to sound legal advice and believes suburban firms can capably share the space with the top-tier legal firms without the red tape and their rigid institutional model.
The pandemic has further cemented her niche, teaching her the benefit of “operating a high-volume generalised practice that offers expertise in the conveyancing, wills and estate administration, family law and compensation space”, she said.
2. Embrace technology
Taking advantage of new technology to improve business efficiencies and reduce delivery times of documents is essential for any new practice to do, according to Ms Lockett.
PEXA is one of the platforms she quickly made use of, enabling her staff to deliver 600 settlement transactions in four months during Queensland’s lockdown last year.
3. Having a client retention and acquisition strategy
Instilling such a strategy from the get-go is what separates success from failure in launching a new practice.
Ms Lockett said a significant contributor to her firm’s exponential growth has been repeat business and clients returning for advice on different legal matters year-on-year. She said the expansion of her referral network to military personnel and their spouses had helped deliver new clients to her practices.
4. Create a client-focussed culture
Ms Lockett encouraged all young lawyers wanting to branch out on their own to make sure they have a clear vision.
Having specific goals, a clear business strategy and financial plan is the key to growth, she said.
5. Remain visible
Ms Lockett advised new firm founders to make their presence known. Use social media to showcase the firm’s expertise, she said, noting that sharing industry updates and legal advice has been an effective way for her to market her firm and attract new clients.
6. Build a quality team of people you can trust
“If you want to run a great business, you need great, talented people,” Ms Lockett said, noting that she employs solicitors who are “highly accomplished and recognised in their respective areas of law”.
Are you looking to launch your own practice but not sure where to start?
Lawyers Weekly’s Boutique Law Summit returns to Sydney this month, designed for individuals who are looking to maximise their competitive edge in a post-pandemic marketplace. The event will be held on Friday, 26 March at the Four Seasons Hotel with a full agenda available to view here.
To learn more about the event, click here.