Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

‘The best decision’: Establishing a new firm while still in a full-time role

Despite currently being in a full-time role – and with no intentions of leaving it – this principal and firm owner decided to take the plunge and start his own firm, a decision he said he encourages anyone else to try.

user iconLauren Croft 22 February 2024 SME Law
expand image

Jarrod Kenney is the principal at Kenney Legal. Speaking on a recent episode of The Boutique Lawyers Show, he outlined some of the challenges that have come with getting his practice off the ground and having another employer at the same time.

Mr Kenney started his firm just over a year ago while simultaneously being in full-time employment with the Victorian government, a role which he still holds.

“I like my other role as well. But I’m really invested in this role, and I’m really invested in Kenney Legal. It’s made it quite easy to be motivated to be able to do that sort of work, especially at the start. You start your business on Monday, the door isn’t banging down with customers on the first day. So, I enjoyed that part of the journey as well. So, it wasn’t as much of a grind as what I thought it would be. I have a wonderfully understanding wife who is very supportive of me doing this and obviously supportive of me doing the other role as well,” he explained.


“But there’s just been that need to balance the two roles, and I’ve done that by having clear parameters on the work hours in relation to my primary role and the work hours in relation to Kenney Legal. I’m fairly specific with the hours that I’m able to do for Kenney Legal, which is mostly during the nights on weekends, which has worked out. And I was able to tease this out in my business plan at the start, but it goes into the niche of the market that I’m looking at for wills and estate.

“The start out was quite a journey, especially through working through all the different requirements that I needed to go through, because it’s not like you start a mowing business, you buy a lawnmower, away you go. As we all know, there are a fair few compliance things that we need to touch on, things like insurance and business registration, [and] practising certificates. So, the first few months of when I was starting this out, I spent a lot of time getting all those things squared away.”

In terms of the future of Kenney Legal, Mr Kenney said he currently has a three-, five- and 10-year business plan, with the hopes of growing the firm organically and eventually hiring staff.

“I’d love to get it to a position where the business can run organically and without my day-to-day involvement; that’s the ultimate goal. And that’s my five-year goal, to be able to get it to that stage. And it’s a slow build-up, and it will then obviously be able to grow from where it is at the moment. Ideally, if it is to get to that stage, I’d like to be able to have more business hours interactions with clients, and that’s obviously going to come with having a second employee or something like that. So that’s [what] I’m aiming for. But I’m not in a massive rush to get there,” he said.

“I’m trying to make sure that the foundations of my business are absolutely sound. And my business plan has really been based on being a relatively local lawyer for my clients. I’m based out in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, so my marketing strategy has really been trying to be local to those people. So, if I can get that local level engagement down, then I’m hoping what it can do is build from there. At the moment, as I said, it is a boutique firm, but the five-year plan is to certainly grow it over a period of time.”

Despite having a full-time role, Mr Kenney said it has acted as a “safety blanket” of sorts – and that lawyers thinking about starting their own firm should take the plunge.

“For whatever reason, if this doesn’t get up, I’ve still got my other role. So, I had a safety blanket in that sense, but I was also really committed to making it work. And when I knew that I was 100 per cent in, that’s when I decided, I’m going to do this. And it was a bit of a whim of making that decision, but it was the best decision I’ve made. It hasn’t impacted my life as much as what I thought it would. Obviously, when there are times when you’re really busy one week, it might be that there are a lot of hours put in, but it ebbs and flows.

“And the other part is that I can control what I want to take on. If there’s something that is going to be far too big or far too outside of my scope, that I’m thinking, well, there might be a good invoice sent at the end, but time-wise, is this going to be worth it for me? It might be outside of my scope. You’ve got that little bit of control as well for what you want to take on. I haven’t been in that position where I’ve wanted to say, ‘no, I can’t help you out’, but it’s good to be able to have that flexibility where if I was working for somebody else on a part-time basis, I wouldn’t have that flexibility,” he added.

“But I encourage anybody to try and do it because it’s been fulfilling, it’s been a journey. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I still really enjoy it. And I’m lucky that I’m in my other role, which is security, but this is where I’m thriving, and this is what I really, really enjoy doing. So, anybody’s thinking about it, just do it.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Jarrod Kenney, click below:

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!