Advice from Grzegorz E. Woźniak, founding and managing partner of Woźniak Legal, on how to strive when starting out with your own law firm
Learning is a lifelong process. You learn something new everyday, as the saying goes, and I believe it. Even if you are a great lawyer, it does not mean that you are a great manager and that you know how to run your own law firm. It’s a learnt skill.
It was 2014. I was the owner of a law firm in Warsaw. Finally, my dreams had come true and after 14 years spent with Allen&Overy, I had decided to go my own way and set up my own law firm which would focus on M&A, private client work and litigation.
I was quite proud of myself. I could do whatever I wanted. This was an incredible feeling of freedom and independence. Besides, I wanted to create something lasting for my colleagues and clients. It was a fabulous feeling!
But there was also the other side of the coin. The top-tier international law firms in Warsaw were stronger and more influential. Our firm was like a small boat on the ocean. Every wave could overturn us. Big law firms had better websites, better offices and better marketing. There was nothing we could do about it, although we thought that we were very good lawyers.
One opportunity for growth was my contacts with ex-A&O lawyers all over Europe. We knew each other from my A&O times, had shared values and some of them had (like me) created independent firms. The cooperation started very modestly from a single transaction handled with my former colleagues in Hamburg and Milan and then very quickly it developed into a collaboration among firms in nine countries founded by former colleagues. We felt that we were on the right track to build something unique and significant in Europe – an elite, independent legal network. It was a great idea. But commercialization of this idea was not easy. It required the utmost experience, wisdom and flexibility.
How to develop the network, how to use social media, how to think about the brand, the importance of an impressive and easily navigated website, attending conferences, and being on twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, why good marketing is so important.
One of the most important pieces of advise: ”Try to have an international focus while still being a Polish law firm.”
It was an epiphany! We made a shift towards the cross-border matters, we moved our offices to one of the most prestigious addresses in Warsaw, we improved our website, we started to be visible on twitter, Linkedin and Facebook and to attend major international conferences. We also started to hire the best graduates. In 2016 (and again in 2017) we were named by the Legal 500 as one of the two best Polish law firms for Private Client work, which has opened many doors for us in Warsaw and in London, including being instructed on several dozen restitution cases concerning property confiscated in Poland by the communist government after 1945.
Today, on the 10th anniversary of Wozniak Legal, we can be proud of our position. In the current period of great re-organization which is taking place in the legal market worldwide, we are in prefect shape to fight for our rightful place.
Take a look here for more information on Wozniak Legal’s journey.
These views are the views of the author and not those of the Law Society.