Law firm CEO “saved £300,000” by recruiting lawyers on LinkedIn

Jardine: People almost always respond if you approach them as CEO

The former chief executive of Brethertons has described how he saved the firm up to £300,000 in recruitment fees by finding lawyers himself on LinkedIn.

Meanwhile, the managing director of North-West firm HM3 Legal said a partner had just joined her firm after rejecting a higher salary at a big City law firm because he knew HM3 was becoming a B Corporation.

Solicitor Shaun Jardine, who now runs law firm consultancy Big Yellow Penguin, said that as chief executive of Brethertons – which has offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby – between 2014 and 2019 he was a “great LinkedIn fan” and estimated that he had saved it between £250,000 and £300,000 by using the platform for recruitment.

He told the Law Firm Ambition conference in London: “People almost always respond if you approach them as CEO. It worked very well.” Brethertons has around 100 fee-earners.

Speaking on a panel of managing partners, he said lawyers “do not understand finance” and “don’t want to deal with pricing” their services, which is why they needed training.

He also advised law firms to get their young lawyers, who spent “all their time in front of screens” instead of meeting people, “into the community, networking”.

Lindsey Kidd, managing director of Chester-headquartered HM3 Legal, said her firm differentiated itself from rivals by highlighting on its website the firm’s “bl**dy brilliant lawyers” and using bright colours.

It also made clear that the firm – formerly known as Hillyer McKeown – plans to become a B Corporation, the movement which encourages companies to balance profit with purpose.

Legal and professional services company Ampa became the largest UK legal business to be certified as a B Corp in January this year.

“I know that a handful of other law firms in the UK already have that, and we’re not the first to the party, but being in the top few to get through will make us very attractive.”

Ms Kidd recently recruited a partner who chose her firm, rather than a big City firm offering a higher salary, because HM3 Legal was becoming a B Corp and because of its ESG [environmental, social and governance] agenda.

She added that it was only when she stepped back from fee-earning as a managing partner, in a firm where all previous managing partners had their own caseloads, that “the momentum in my business really took off”.

Jonathan Blair, partner at Womble Bond Dickinson and head of its consultancy service WBD Advisory, said it was “far easier” to have conversations with law firms about change when times were harder.

“US law firms are deeply unsophisticated compared to those in the UK legal sector, but they have no reason to change because they are doing really well and paying significantly more than in the UK.”

Mr Blair said every senior or managing partner he had spoken to in the last few years had said they were “a bit too nice”, which meant tolerating mediocrity in their firms.

While the cost of mediocrity was “very high”, he said dealing with it was a “far bigger challenge”, often because of a law firm’s culture, which meant that a “delicate balance” had to be achieved.

Mr Blair said that for all the “uncomfortable conversations” law firm managers needed to have, for example when lateral hires did not work out, they were “never as bad as you expect them to be”.

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