Don’t judge a book by its cover.
We've all heard the story about the scruffy guy in jeans who goes in to the Ferrari showroom and is treated badly because of the way he is dressed, only to announce that he’s just won the lottery and will now be taking his business to the Aston Martin showroom down the road. We’ve probably all been on both sides of this fence from time to time. We’ve probably all had people look at us and think “you can’t afford my prices” or we’ve looked at people and thought “you’re not smart enough to understand what I do”. Perhaps it’s just human nature.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a very wide and varied career. I’ve worked for a legal 500 west end firm and I’ve worked for a small high street firm. I’ve worked in private practice and I’ve worked in house. I’ve been responsible for making sure the vending machines were fully stocked (never underestimate the importance of making sure the team are well fed, especially when they work through the night) and I’ve been responsible for making wholesale redundancies in order to save the company, which resulted in me receiving death threats.
A few years ago, I reached a point where I wanted to change the direction of my career, and I had to decide what to do next. I had the option of another in house role, or looking to go back to the West End, but I elected instead to set up on my own. I did this for a number of reasons, and I’ve never regretted the decision. However, I’m aware of the fact that people judge me for it. Some are proud and impressed at what I have achieved in a small period of time. Others assume that because I’m not working for a big name, that I cannot provide the same level of service and I do not have the same level of experience. In fact, I’d say that in many cases I have much more experience than some of my colleagues from bigger firms, because I’ve gone out and got my hands dirty rather than just sitting in an office telling other people how to run their businesses. I’ve seen first-hand the effects that legal advice and decisions can have on a company and its staff. I haven’t just had to help make the important decisions, but I’ve had to implement them and live with the consequences. There are, of course, some excellent solicitors in other firms, big and small, established and newly set up, but none of us should be judged on the name over the door. Just because you work for a top law firm, doesn't automatically mean you are good at what you do. Just because you are a one man band, doesn’t automatically mean you are not.
If you need sensible pragmatic advice from an experienced solicitor, whose rates are more reasonable than some of her rivals, but her advice and knowledge is no less valuable, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can share stores on how we’ve been misjudged and how important it is to keep an open mind.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. It’s quality over quantity.