Elliott Moss, director of Business Development at Mishcon de Reya, presented – from my perspective anyway – the most interesting session at the Netlaw Key Strategies for Law Firms conference (see below for full conference report).

He started by saying that the content of his presentation was the culmination of nearly two and a half years work but, after three years where fee income was flat during the recession, it generated a 30% spike last year. The implicit message was that it takes time for results to appear so those seeking a quick fix please take note. He indicated that “calculated bravery”, a real appetite and internal advocacy was needed for bold strategies.

His approach contained four steps:

1. Know what you stand for – Interviewing clients was the starting point. The firm’s values were then clearly articulated – intelligent business thinking, principled thinking, connected and advisers not just lawyers – and wrapped up in a coherent mission “It’s business but it’s personal” and shown to underpin all subsequent programmes and actions.

2. Clients first – Ask clients what they like and then make it interesting and useful. He stressed the need to combine innovation, legislation and client need. I felt he underplayed a rather key element here – the product/service development process that resulted in six distinct products being launched including Protect for insurance, Enl.ghten for mobile knowledge, Enable to allow HR people to “DIY” and Change Review for the Companies Act.

3. Do less but go big – After an 18 month internal pre-sell they spent £300K on one initiative (FT Deals and Dealmaker to bolster the corporate reputation) which resulted in 22% more people being more likely to choose the firm. He also outlined a number of other association strategies with links to organisations such as London Chamber of Commerce (for lobbying on behalf of clients), Smarta (an equity stake in the entrepreneur market), Walpole (to support their luxury brands market clients) and Quintessentially (to provide concierge services to private clients). He mentioned a three times return on investment.

4. Think of the future script (Legal Services Act) – There was a nod to the CSR programme (supporting Kiva microloans and Coram kids charity) and “Mishcommunity’s” discretionary fund which staff allocated each month.

I admired the structured and strategic approach blended with bold and creative campaigns underpinned by measureable results.