Welcome to the first in the series of legal marketing interviews. Today we have expert insight from Kate Henderson, Marketing Manager at Else Solicitors.
How did you start in legal marketing?
So, my career actually started out in fashion, I studied at NTU and completed my degree in International Fashion Business with a 2:1. Whilst at university I worked at the well-known Midlands based high-end retailer Limeys for Women and later Cruise, I gained the most valuable skill during my time here – customer service – and this skill alone has bagged me excellent roles to date.
After uni I secured a position on the Trainee Management Programme at John Lewis in Nottingham, eventually I was part of a leadership team looking after up to 100 ‘Partners’ on the shop floor and learnt about how to manage people. John Lewis really know how to train people the ‘proper way’ so I had extensive training on leadership styles, personality traits, learning characteristics of your team, different ways to communicate with different people, how to encourage, motivate and when necessary discipline and produce constructive learning development plans to boost performance.
I actually got into Legal Marketing when I applied for a role at a bespoke catering company. I had done really well in the interview but I didn’t have any catering experience so they opted for someone with this particular experience. The director passed my name on to the Head of Marketing at Geldards LLP, my greenness into the specialism and record of good customer service and training lead to me being offered the position with the plan for her to train me from scratch. It was hell for the first few months, I actually had my probation period extended because my boss wasn’t sure I was quite ‘getting it’. This was like a red rag to the bull, I gritted my teeth, put in long hours, worked really hard and made myself ‘get it’. 5 years later and I’m now ‘Marketing Manager’ for Else Solicitors LLP. Within my first two weeks of employment I had presented to the board my vision for social media and within the first month delivered KPIs which demonstrate 300% improvement across the various platforms. Going into my second month, I have developed a fully functional CRM system which is 100% GDPR compliant.
How has the industry changed since you started?
When I started in Legal Marketing the onus was on events, events, events, in the first year of my employment at Geldards, I had done 52 days overtime, we were doing so many events we couldn’t even take that time back. In the last 2 years, the shift has been less about the masses and more about focusing our attention on the key priorities, less events, in favour of bespoke niche events designed to look after our regular clients (business development) and open up opportunities with our targets. It’s all become more focused and ROIC measured.
The digital aspect of marketing has really come into its own with a large proportion of my time focusing on our online presence.
What’s the best thing about working in marketing for a law firm?
The best thing about working for Else specifically, is being granted the freedom to develop our marketing activity and team in the direction I want it to go. I’m very lucky to be in a position (so early on in my employment with the company), that I can go to the board, present what I wanted to do, why I want to do it and tell them how I plan to deliver it, and they respond with open minds and support for my vision. I’m not confident that other firms take this approach, and that’s a shame. I’m empowered at Else, and that’s rare.
What do you think law firms could do better in terms of marketing?
Generally speaking Lawyers need to up their game when it comes to marketing. They need to be actively involved with social media, sourcing and attending events and networking opportunities which are of real value to their network and business development activity. They are the legal minds, I do not know the law, but they do, so if there’s a legislative change looming – they need to be proactively coming to me (marketing) and telling me there’s an opportunity for articles, comment or press.
How well do you think the industry handles enquiries?
Well, if a potential client makes an enquiry from cold, that’s rare! So our lawyers pounce on the opportunity to quote for work and often win the work because other firms are slack at responding in a timely manner – this is crazy to me… legal work doesn’t just fall into laps these days, so on the odd occasion it does – snap it up!
What areas are you focussing on over the next 12 months?
WEB, SEO AND BRAND IDENTITY
What will a law firm in 2025 look like and how will it operate?
No idea about other law firms but ours will be stronger with even more specialist and skilled lawyers holding positions in the firm, these people will be training and passing on their expertise to the younger generation, generating career opportunities for the long haul. We will be continuing to service the local business community and encouraging new business as we continue to expand our teams and offering. We will be reaping the rewards financially and watching our business grow by reinvesting to secure the development of our business for years to come.
How important is marketing for a legal practice?
Essential – typically lawyers aren’t marketers, they are legal minds and need to focus their attention on doing an excellent job of that. If they do their job – marketing can use that expertise to bring in the work and build a brand with a strong reputation. The cycle feeds itself.
What impact has the internet and technology had on law firms?
The internet has meant that law firms have had to catch up with modern day marketing. Marketing for law firms is still a relatively new realm and being stagnant in your approach will leave you behind especially from a digital marketing perspective.
What should firms do now to invest in their future?
Retain the highest calibre of staff who will nurture, develop and grow the business so that is as solid as it can be for the future. How? By looking after its people.