At Legal Services 2018 in Manchester on 14.11.2017 we heard the stories of 4 firms which I had called underdogs but which are probably better called “Outliers” (Thank you to Robert Levy for spotting that). The concept of outliers comes from the book by Malcolm Gladwell.

They each had a different route that they are following to achieve success in a market where the prevailing view seems to be that size, scale and financial resource are the key determinants of success.

A study by Edge International looking at the largest 200 firms in America clearly shows that is not the case but the big UK firms don’t seem to have cottoned on.

Our 4 speakers certainly have.

Two factors that Edge International did find assisted profitability were being located in a major city and having a single office location. 

Although each of our 4 firms was very different from the others there were common themes in what they are doing to become successful outliers.

Being different does not mean being high tech.

There is a difference between innovation and technology. Some of the differentiation, particularly of Hall Brown meant going back to very old-fashioned ways of doing things.

Success can be lost cost and low tech

Starting a firm does not have to cost a lot. Growth can also be inexpensive if you do it right. Hall Brown, Harrison Drury and Gunnercooke have all found cost-effective ways to grow quickly.

Passion and Values are key

The owners of the firm and those who come and work with them need to believe in the cause the firm has and need to buy into why they are doing what they are doing. All the firms were evangelical about the “Why”. Believing in what you are doing, seeing the purpose behind your role is something which was particularly important to the younger members of the teams. Kuits, Hall Brown, Gunnercooke and Harrison Drury are all great examples of businesses with a cause that their people passionately believe in.

Identity, Culture and Communication

It is vital to have a clear identity and a culture which works for clients and your team. All of the firms talked about the importance of teamwork, communication and giving clear feedback to the team even when the message might be a difficult one.