Judging a book by its cover

SEAN Brierley (City Lawyer last week) is right to remind us that a colourful new brand is no substitute for a good reputation grounded on giving a great service to existing clients. Any firms that have forgotten this are in real trouble. Similarly, over-obsessiveness about mentions in the legal press is an ailment that affects many partners that he rightly picks up.

However, the day-to-day reality is that law firms spend large amounts on events, newsletters and other less-newsworthy collateral, aimed as much at existing clients as at new ones. But easy-to-criticise targets of new logos and slick advertising are hardly the staple of law firm marketing.

Marketing, when it is done properly, is about finding out what a firm can do well, communicating this and then delivering it. It starts with strategy and analysis, which may lead to new logos and a sheet with new brand values if you're unlucky. But it could equally lead to new training initiatives, mergers, the introduction of new services and closure of under-performing ones.

How such a focus on communicating services and meeting clients needs "does not add value to service – or reputation" as Sean Brierley asserts leaves me at a loss.

Underlying his article is an assumption that mid-sized law firms do not already give as good a service as bigger firms can. Not so.

Could it be that the larger firms have the upper hand through their investment in marketing which has helped ensure they are the first choice for graduates and get automatically included on pitch lists?

Tim Prizeman, Director, Kelso Consulting