Mar 11 '13
This is the law’s fastest cross-examination. The respondent has to post an answer between zero and 140 characters. Today’s latest interviewee is Matthew Denney, business development and marketing partner at Enyo Law in London.
We’re really excited to speak with Matthew who will surely have some fascinating opinions and insights to share with us.
Brian John Spencer: What are you up to right now?
Matthew Denney: Finalising all artwork/materials for the IBA in Boston as we are sponsoring the opening party. And proof reading articles on DBAs, costs and LIBOR.
BJS: Where and why did you choose to read law?
MD: I always planned to go into law but read Ancient History & Archaeology at Durham. I then did the CPE & LPC at the College of Law, Guildford.
BJS: What does the law mean to you?
MD: Commercial law is commodity and ultimately a service industry. For me, it’s about getting the best result for the client whilst being professional and commercial.
BJS: You’re qualified but don’t actually practice, care to explain what you do?
MD: Not in 140 characters! My role continually evolves and every day is different. In a small firm you have to be adaptable and flexible.
BJS: Business development and marketing isn’t really something lawyers concern themselves with is it?
MD: Not everyone enjoys it, has the time or has the right skillset. People should play to their strengths – I can’t review (or stare at) 500 page documents.
BJS: Care to explain legal business development and legal marketing in 140 characters or less?
MD: In a word, relationships. It takes time and effort but it’s what I care most about and what I really enjoy about this role. Law is a people business.
BD: How important is BD and marketing to the Enyo family?
MD: Hugely. So much of our work comes from other law firms and chambers. We are a relatively new firm so it’s crucial that people understand who we are, what we do and our brand.
BJS: Thoughts on the current state of the UK legal economy?
MD: It’s still in a state of flux. There is too much saturation, too many lawyers. It is hard to turn a supertanker into a speedboat.
BJS: What are your specific worries and challenges?
MD: For me personally, where the next big case is coming from. You can never rest on your laurels and litigation is a hard thing to market or predict.
BJS: How are you tackling the challenges?
MD: Increasing our profile as well as growing the network and encouraging others here to do the same. I am also spending a lot of time in overseas markets.
BJS: Complacent: is that a word to describe contemporary law practice?
MD: I think that is too sweeping. There are a number of complacent partners but generally most firms, if they don’t have a USP, are more concerned than they are complacent.
BJS: How’s the general of uptake of BD and marketing among other market participants?
MD: It needs to be recognised as a core part of a law firm. It’s not helping a partner with a pitch – good BD/marketing is targeted and strategic.
BJS: Does technology have a role to play in the law industry?
MD: Of course. Technology makes our lives easier (once it is properly understood), enables leaner teams, remote and flexible working and can save clients money.
BJS: Alternative business models… thoughts on the emerging players?
MD: It will be interesting to see how this market evolves. I understand some of the concerns but for commercial law firms I can see the advantages.
BJS: Legal branding and heaven forbid… marketing: important to 21st Century law practice?
MD: I would say a necessity. There is much greater competition for clients and work. It is not all about cost either.
BJS: Does Twitter, LinkedIn etc. come into your business?
MD: It is more on a personal level to keep in touch with people and to make new relationships. And to keep up to date on legal opinions, trends and changes.
BJS: Does social media have a place and role to play in modern law practice?
MD: It does, the challenge is to keep things fresh, interesting and to constantly produce new material. And not to write something you soon regret.
BJS: Why do lawyers have such a mistrust of technology, social media etc.?
MD: Not sure it’s mistrust more a reluctance to change usual working practices. And those who do embrace it are not generally at the decision-making level in their firms.
BJS: Should law school teach commercial acumen like marketing and business development?
MD: Definitely. As I’ve said, not everyone will be good at it or enjoy it but these skills should be taught and encouraged from law school onwards.
BJS: Any major ambitions and goals for the short to medium term?
MD: An internal coup and a rebranding of the firm to Denyo Law LLP. If this fails, to grow our reputation abroad and to keep the work coming in.
BJS: Advice for aspiring solicitors?
MD: Never underestimate a relationship; you never know where it might lead. There is no such thing as a pointless meeting. Enjoy the law, your firm – if you don’t, get out!