This book deserves to be a ROARing success – as does the career of anyone who follows its advice.

Book review of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell YOU! 
by Stephen Mayson, professor of strategy and director of the Legal Services Institute at the College of Law.  He also acts as a strategic adviser to legal services businesses.

I’d like to announce the publication of the book I’ve always wanted to write.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been written by me.  Chrissie Lightfoot – entrepreneur and solicitor – has beaten me to it!  If you’re wondering where to start in the quest for new business, or if you’ve ever questioned your own ability to be a better business developer, this book is for you.  If you’ve never wondered or questioned, then you are either a consummate rainmaker or more in need of this book than you realise!

This new book is available both as an e-book and in hard copy, so there’s no excuse for not being able to find a copy.   It is innovative in style and approach, and should be compulsory reading for every young lawyer – and strongly recommended for every other practitioner still drawing breath.  It is not about preparing for the future, some far-off time when life will be tougher and more competitive than it is today.  It’s about the here and now, the reality of practising law and winning new business today – when life is already tough and competitive.

Some will no doubt be put off by the title, and the often racy tone of the writing.  After all, a naked lawyer might not conjure up pleasant images for large segments of the population!  But don’t be put off.  Some things need to be said; others need to be done.  Getting the message across in direct and unforgettable ways, to inspire changes in attitudes and activities, is what this book is about.  Remember The Naked Chef?  Jamie Oliver did rather well out of that without taking his clothes off!  The idea of the naked lawyer is in the same vein – stripped down to bare essentials, and doing the things that really matter and make a difference.  Blaming the medium will be a denial of the message – except that the message is irrefutable.

Winning clients and delivering market-leading service require many of the same skills as seduction.  The essence of the book is ROAR (reach out and relate).  Chemistry in personal relationships is about relating; chemistry in professional ones is the same.  But how many lawyers truly reach out and relate?  Too many sit back and wait.  It doesn’t matter whether you call the process ‘selling’, ‘marketing’, ‘business development’, or ‘reaching out and relating’: done well, it calls on the same processes and psychology.  To relate to someone else well, you have to understand yourself pretty well, too.  Only then can you have the confidence to put yourself in the client’s shoes and frame of mind.  Only then are you really ready for the journey.

This book is actually about two journeys.  The first is Chrissie’s, and is an illustration of the ideas promoted in the text.  It’s real, it’s grounded, and it’s firmly rooted in the digital and social media age.  It’s a story of learning and success.  The second is the reader’s, and is designed to take each of us beyond our current comfort zone to a new destination.  All journeys begin with a single step; with Chrissie constantly on hand to help, the journey to become ‘a naked lawyer’ is not a leap into the dark, but a step-by-step guide from start to finish.  It begins with self-discovery and personal brand foundations, and progresses through demonstrating value and empathy to winning and retaining business, taking in social media and innovation along the way.  It’s personal and relevant because it is what you make it.  Not going all the way will only cheat yourself.

The text is written in an engaging, contemporary, straight-talking style.  There are some wonderful and memorable turns of phrase and imagery (I love ‘law law land’).  You’ll need to concentrate to remember all the concepts and acronyms.  But they are all part of a coherent philosophy and approach that comes together as the journey unfolds.  The person at the end of the journey is a lawyer entrepreneur – a rare breed, but increasingly needed.

The book does not provide a blueprint, and won’t guarantee success.  But it is a template, with a tried-and-tested record.  The Naked Lawyer is more than lawyers have been offered before.  Not to try it out is to miss out on wealth – a wealth of knowledge and experience, and the wealth generated by clarity of purpose, confidence, and a successful practice.

For the thinkers who read the book, there is an impressive array of powerful ideas and wide reading distilled into these pages as well as references to follow for those hungry for more.  They are not presented as dry, theoretical material, but as additional insight and illustration for the story being told.

For the doers (and the thinkers who need to move to action), there are activities, exercises and applications – ‘just do something!’ interludes that punctuate the text, and some ‘after dark activity’ at the end.  It’s why the book is so valuable as CPD: there’s plenty of scope for learning and developing skills and action points, as well as for truly reflective practice. At last – great value CPD that means lawyers will learn something they need to know!

Clients want to deal not just with someone they can relate to (how many clients do you know who positively relish the thought of spending 12 hours sitting side by side with their lawyer on a flight to the west coast of the US?!).  They want to use a lawyer who really wants to act for them – enthusiastically, passionately, rather than grudgingly.  And this book is about enthusiasm and passion … for extraordinary relationships and great customer service.

One of the most fascinating insights in the book is the revelation that Chrissie’s former bosses allowed her enough scope to do much of what she now recommends while she was still a trainee.  If only more partners in law firms felt secure enough to do that.  So if you control the purse strings and are not sure whether to support your own trainees and assistants (and even partners!) in taking the naked lawyer journey, consider this: as a trainee (and new business owner) in 2009, Chrissie generated new business enquiries and referrals during one year of this recession that were worth more in value than many long-established partners will have managed after many years of practice and at the height of a boom. Now replicate that performance around the firm…  In the competitive world of 2011 and beyond, it should be all hands on deck – and here’s what the deck-hands need to know and do. 

Entrepreneurialism is what the clients of the 21st century will really pay a premium for.  Strip out interest on capital and a partner’s wage, and it’s what the rest of a profit share rewards.  Practising law, and being part of a legal services business, is not just about giving legal advice (and nor, in truth, has it ever been).  It is about reaching out and relating. 

Every interaction you have with someone outside the firm (and for those of you still chasing the often vain goal of internal cross-selling, even interactions within it) is an instance of ‘relating’ – or, if you prefer, marketing.  Ask yourself these questions: is each interaction good, bad or indifferent; effective or ineffective; positive or negative; brand-building or brand-destroying?  These are important questions, because one of the most central messages of The Naked Lawyer is this: branding is not everything, but everything is branding.

This book deserves to be a ROARing success – as does the career of anyone who follows its advice.  Don’t wait: reach out and relate!

Professor Stephen Mayson is the author of Law Firm Strategy: Competitive Advantage and Valuation (2007, Oxford University Press).

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