My legal PR business LexRex Communications is ten. Which feels crazy, because surely it’s only five minutes since I flounced (ok not really) out of my final law firm fee earning role and straight into the pub which I’m fairly sure kickstarted, or perhaps simply marked the start of quite a significant quarter-life crisis.
How was LexRex created?
So what happened then? Well, I knew that fee earning in a law firm was no longer for me. After quite a few years of betablockers to try to calm my pretty-extreme-with-hindsight, work-related anxiety and literal sleepless nights before any type of court hearing, I had finally realised that whilst I loved the law and its application a) I worried too much about losing / letting down my clients to be a good litigator and b) non-contentious stuff was so boring to me that I’d rather sit in the post room with the juniors than do it. #Awkward.
Anyway, I remembered that a couple of my (admittedly privately educated, which I am certainly not) roommates from university had talked about ‘going into PR’. And I (quite naively) thought, yeah ok – that always did sound like it would be fun. And that was it. I ‘went into PR’. I did a six-month work experience stint (for free lol and I was probably the world’s oldest work experience girl) at a Manchester agency that had a top 100 law firm on its books, moved to an account manager role there for a little while, then got a second actual paid job in PR at arguably the North’s leading PR agency.
But reader, alas – agency life wasn’t for me. Too many, err, let’s say ‘personalities’. It was a bit of a doomed project; I now see with hindsight. At the same time that I was in agency-land, I was frantically upskilling into PR via a distance learning course and hoovering up knowledge about strategic PR, ethical PR, industry best practice and the academic fundamentals that underlie the practice. As an aside – and it continues to astonish me – incredibly few PRs have undertaken formal PR training. For the record, I’m a proud Chartered PR professional and enjoy the CPD that comes with that external kitemark.
At this point, it has to be said, my options were pretty limited. I didn’t want to be a lawyer in a law firm, I didn’t want to work in delivery at an agency. I tried but failed to get an in-house PR job (they are really rare and you need broader marketing skills, which I didn’t have at that time). Also – another point of realisation was that I really, really hated being told what to do. Which can be a problem when you have a job or indeed a boss.
So that’s how LexRex was born. The name is from Latin and very roughly translates as ‘The law is King’ or ‘The law of the King’. Which I always thought was quite clever. It’s very rare that people ask though – so I guess they are either cleverer than me, or they assume it’s a meaningless name.
Has anything changed in legal PR over the past 10 years?
A lot has changed and nothing has changed. When I started in PR, the decline in print media was already in full swing and that has played out to an extent. In the end though, the media hasn’t really lost any of its power, it’s just that we now consume our content in different ways to how we used to.
A good, strong story continues to sell. There are still 8 ‘engaging elements’ that tend to exist in all news stories – these include things like weirdness, emotion, proximity, geography to name a few.
Lawyers continue to be at the forefront of the news, every single day. Lawyers continue to be maligned in the press (just look at the barristers’ strike for evidence of that). Lawyers continue to astonish me with their intelligence, dedication to their clients and for, on the whole, being jolly nice people to work with.
Social media has changed. Twitter was ‘big’ when I was transitioning out of law and into PR. Instagram wasn’t even a ‘thing’ let alone a ‘big’ thing. LinkedIn has continued to grow as (I) predicted and is now the platform of choice for many if not most lawyers to raise their professional profiles and that of their teams and firm. Broadcast coverage is still really bloody hard to secure, and some journalists continue to be tricky to deal with (sorry guys but it’s true).
One very good change though is that lawyers no longer seem to ask me to put out press releases to announce their new websites. And that’s a very good thing.
Have you learned anything during the past 10 years?
Yes, many hard lessons have been learnt at the coalface of running a business.
It turns that having a business AND a baby, is really hard work. Who knew that having a baby with allergies and a corresponding aversion to sleep, a toddler AND a business would be nigh on impossible? Seriously, why did nobody warn me…?
It remains impossible to ‘have it all’. But with lots of planning, support with childcare and life admin, it’s possible to have a decent time of it and avoid feeling too guilty too often. But honestly, with really young kids – if you want to do the whole part-time nursery thing (which I did), you just gotta stick it out until they get older. Oh and school is a bummer because – 3.15pm finishing time + holidays. Again, it’s an ongoing juggle but support on that front; whether paid, from a co-parent, friends, relatives – however you get it – is really, really helpful.
Cash. When they say cash is king – they mean it. Cash really is king. You can the world’s most profitable business, but if you run out of cash, you are quite literally screwed.
Clients. Choose them well. They will make or break your business. Also, freelancers and employees. Pick them well and you will be able to build a dream team (I know – I have #smugface). Get it wrong then get rid quickly and move on. You won’t regret it.
Systems. I now love a good system. Get them in place quickly, work out with the team what works and doesn’t work, and tinker until they work or rip them out and start again if they don’t.
Days off. Take random days off. Go outside when it’s sunny and have a garden disco. Go to the cinema and see Top Gun 2 at 10.00 am on a Friday morning. Get your nails done after you’ve dropped the kids off. Go to the gym. Why? Because you can and because the benefits of running your own business extend far beyond any financial return.
So, there you go, a whistlestop tour through what has genuinely been my most challenging, invigorating, exciting, terrifying, stressful, difficult but ultimately beautiful decade to date.
Running a business = best thing you’ll ever do.