Do Solicitors’ Practices have a value?

on 23 June, 2010 Email this Email this - Print this Print this

In the first of four articles, CoreLegal founder member Ray Fox (from the Bottom Line Consultancy) introduces us to his specialist work as acting as a broker selling Law Firms.

A few simple questions for you. Do Solicitors’ Practices have a value and, if they do, how do you value them and who would want to buy them?  Easy questions to ask but very difficult to answer.

I hope the following will give you some background to my experience of working with the Legal Profession.  Firstly, I am NOT a Solicitor – I am a Chartered Secretary.  I climbed the greasy pole of industry and commerce through the Company Secretarial route.

For 8½ years I worked for in the Engineering industry, initially as Assistant Company Secretary and then as Company Secretary of a £50M lift engineering Company…

After that, I spent 7 years working for Dun + Bradstreet, the worlds’ largest business information company.  I joined them as UK Company Secretary and over the next few years was promoted to be the Company Secretary of Dun + Bradstreet Europe, then Dun + Bradstreet Group and then their UK Legal Director.  I was responsible for all of D+B’s major UK based legal matters.  When Dun + Bradstreet were in the City, it made sense to use a large City based Practice.  When Dun + Bradstreet relocated to High Wycombe, I started using three local Firms in the Thames Valley.

15½ years ago, in 1994, I left Dun + Bradstreet to set up my own Consultancy practice, specialising in providing support to the Legal Profession.  Over the past 15½  years, I have worked for over 540 different Solicitors’ Practices.  Initially, I started helping Law Firms generate more Commercial Clients – and we still do – its one of the largest elements of our support services to the Legal Profession.

Over the years of working with the Legal Profession, I have learned some interesting things.  Generally, Solicitors know nothing about marketing.  Generally, they are not good at running a business.  Generally, they are introspective, introverted, isolated and insular.  However, their main problem seems to be that when Solicitors hit an impasse in their business, they don’t have a natural route to turn to for help.

I started getting phone calls from Solicitors along the lines of…….”I know you normally help us generate more commercial clients, but we’ve got a problem and don’t know who else to turn to.”  I started to get involved with developing brochures, newsletters, web sites, quarterly legal updates for web sites, headhunting/recruitment, Professional Indemnity Insurance, raising finance, Profit Diagnostics, Strategic Planning – all for the Legal Profession.  We’ve even developed a Solicitor-to- Solicitor newsletter service called Solicitors’ Network £xchange, so Solicitors can network and advertise amongst themselves.

About 11 years ago, a multi-site Practice asked me to approach some small Practices in a little town where they were interested in opening an office.  When I approached the Law Firms in this particular town and told them that I had a Client interested in the possibility of acquiring their Practice, there was a mega orgasmic explosion of “YES – buy my Firm!!”  It was like a reality TV programme – “I’m a Sole Practitioner – get me out of here!!”

That was how I got involved in acting as a Broker selling Law Firms…


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Topics: Selling law firms
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