Legal firms should be looking to their brands to secure their futures

Legal firms should be looking to their brands to secure their futures

By Thayne Forbes

We all know that the traditional law firm model is in a state of flux as a result of the threat from the influx of ABSs and, more recently, the Jackson reforms. But what do these changes mean for law firm brands and, more importantly, for traditional law firms – could their brand unlock the key to their survival?

Taking a hands-on approach to brand management

The legal industry has to date been characterised by an increasingly large number of firms competing in a saturated marketplace. The number of firms is quite different to many classic markets which are dominated by two or three large firms. The industry also differs from most in its broadly passive approach to branding – partners in law firms are adept at managing and building their own personal brands but this juxtaposes with the efforts made by the over-arching firm, which can sometimes sit behind the personal brands of the big personalities within them.

It isn’t as though the idea of branding is an alien concept to lawyers – IP lawyers in particular are adept at battling it out in the courtroom to protect their clients’ brands from infringements, yet this IP expertise does not always extend to how they treat their own firm’s brand.

Despite this, many law firms have strong brands, often thriving within their niche. For example, Olswang is known for its entertainment focus and Farrers for its work with the HNW community. The problem that these firms face is communicating this to a wider audience and capitalising on their brand value and unique selling point – branding needs to be optimised and communicated to a wider audience if firms want to compete with the big brands.

If legal firms are not taking the time to understand their brand, it is perhaps unsurpris

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About the author:

Thayne read Mathematics at Oxford University before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Binder Hamlyn in London in 1986. He has since passed the Post Graduate Intensive Diploma at the Chartered Institute of Marketing and is now a fellow of both the Institutes. He is also a member of The Academy of Experts, The Society of Expert Witnesses, The Institute of Expert Witnesses and has Expert Witness and Forensic Accountant accreditation from the ICAEW.

Thayne worked for Arthur Andersen for six years, and then at Brand Finance for a year, prior to becoming a founder shareholder director of Intangible Business Limited. Whilst at Arthur Andersen, Thayne was one of the key intellectual property specialists in the UK practice, for example he was the UK representative on the global steering committee responsible for developing international training and best practice in valuations.

Thayne’s strategy, valuation and forensic accounting work has covered brands, other intangible assets such as software, patents, copyright and databases as well as businesses and shares. He has carried out 100s of such advisory projects over the last 25 years. These have been required across a wide range of industry sectors both in the UK and international markets for a variety of business reasons, such as strategy, sale or purchase, business re-organisation or dispute resolution.