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Growth tools for boutiques

Growth as a small firm can be hard, with sustainable and organic growth reportedly becoming increasingly difficult in the current market. However, there are a number of practical steps firm owners can take to stand out and build their network.

user iconLauren Croft 09 November 2023 SME Law
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Business development is an important aspect of founding a boutique law firm – with social media and networking as key tools driving organic firm growth.

Director and co-founder of Balance Family Law Perpetua Kish has come to appreciate how “genuine sociability and real connections” have resonated with her experience as a woman in business.

“Proper networking is about creating a real connection between people – and is almost never built up by forced or feigned pleasant conversation with beverage in hand. Connection is sparked, stimulated, and sustained when we show up willing to be more than just what we do, but show up as who we actually are,” she told Lawyers Weekly.


“We build actual connections when we are brave enough to exchange ideas and views that, while may leave us open to judgement and scrutiny, prompt curiosity and interest. We are more memorable and compelling and are more likely to build real connections when we show up as our authentic selves. For me, this means I am often very open, animated, occasionally weird and sometimes boisterous. I stopped hiding ‘me’ behind a job title or preconceptions of what a lawyer or businesswoman should be.

“Once I showed up unashamedly, ‘networking’ started to feel organic and even fun. Opening up to others encouraged many to open up to me. And I started making very real and lasting connections. I would leave events happy, buoyed and encouraged. My network grew and grew and is now sizable and full of people I trust who send me work, promote what I do, and encourage me and my various business ventures and interests. And I love to do the same for them and more.”

For other law firms, culture has been key for growth, something which Ironbridge Legal partner Trevor Withane confirmed.

“At Ironbridge Legal, we have found that the key to sustainable growth is found in cultivating a great firm culture. We’re immensely proud of the culture that we’ve created; it’s an environment that promotes the very highest standards of legal expertise whilst being a really encouraging and friendly place to work that supports everyone’s development,” he said.

“I believe that the quality of our work and the success of the firm are firmly rooted in this cultural strength – it’s something that’s visible to both employees and clients.”

Having a coach or mentor can also be extremely helpful for growth, added Rise Legal managing director Helen Kay.

“To grow their firms successfully, firm owners should first identify their strengths and areas where they may need improvement. Once they’ve pinpointed areas requiring growth, seeking the necessary knowledge and support is crucial,” she explained.

“For instance, if someone lacks confidence in business development and networking, reaching out for assistance is essential – finding a coach or mentor can be immensely helpful. I’ve had the privilege of guiding many professionals in developing these ‘soft’ skills and implementing strategies to boost their businesses and personal brands.”

Additionally, Ms Kish found that finding her “community” online has meant that her firm’s reach and influence have grown, too.

“The importance of vulnerability in forming meaningful connections is exemplified in online interactions. On social media, I’ve witnessed and personally experienced the power of authenticity. It’s not just about putting your best business face forward but also about sharing the doubts, struggles, and fears that come with running a business. It’s in these moments of openness that I’ve found the most genuine and supportive connections.

“Online platforms have emerged as a powerful tool, offering a supportive and authentic space for networking and business development. Social media allows women entrepreneurs like me to connect, share, and thrive,” she added.

“Post-pandemic, social media platforms provide a unique space where we can meet and connect with peers, potential collaborators, and even clients without the need for physical presence. These platforms have allowed me to engage with a wide audience and share my experiences, both positive and challenging. And when you finally get to meet these people IRL, well, that can be magic.”

Mr Withane has also found social media to be extremely valuable, as well as building and maintaining client relationships.

“We have found LinkedIn to be a great way to connect across jurisdictions with other lawyers. The connectivity of social media is an incredibly useful tool to stay in touch with old colleagues and to reach a wide audience,” he said.

“It’s critical that firms develop their identity and culture through an understanding of what their values are. People are at the heart of our vocation, so the relationships we have with clients must reflect our ethical and professional values. Being commercially adept and enterprising has also been a fundamental part of our identity at Ironbridge Legal, and promoting these skills as firm values has ensured that we can encourage our solicitors to pair their legal expertise with an entrepreneurial focus.”

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