What motivates an entrepreneur is a matter for the individual. It could be the prospect of making money – and lots of it, or the need to be your own boss. For others however, it’s the need to make big difference – and everything else falls incidental. After nine years in the legal profession, Ugur Nedim felt the pull of the latter.
Working as a criminal defence lawyer for a specialist criminal law firm, Ugur became despondent in an industry which appeared to hold profit generation as it’s overriding objective. Of course – in any business, money talks. For Ugur however, money stops speaking sense when professionals, inebriated by the pursuit of profits, act against client interests. From overbilling, to unnecessarily prolonging cases, unethical practices were rife according to Ugur. And that’s why he broke away and started Sydney Criminal Lawyers.
“I went out on my own to focus on high quality legal and client service, rather than the pursuit of profits – after experiencing how profit generation was the overriding objective of not only the firm that I worked for, but other firms as well.”
With innovation and quality at the core of the business, Sydney Criminal Lawyers started as it meant to go on.
In 2001, unlike most other lawyers at the time, the firm turned to online to develop a digital presence and make information more accessible.
“I’ve steadily added content about different types of criminal offences, general information about criminal law and rights, information about how to represent yourself in court and so on.”
Then, in 2004 Sydney Criminal Lawyers became the first law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’ in criminal and traffic cases.
“When I did this, I got telephone calls from other lawyers asking why I would do such a thing, the inference being that I was somehow undermining other lawyers by letting clients know exactly how much money their cases would cost,” said Ugur.
“Fixed fees are now all the rage in a number of areas of law, but back then they were unheard of in criminal law. Back then, and even today, lawyers will often suss out how much a client can pay and give an estimate of costs.”
Sydney Criminal Lawyers, with it’s ambitions to make information and practices more transparent, certainly had people talking. Founded upon the principles of quality service and accessibility, the firm would not hold information at ransom.
“I remember that in around 2006, I saw another criminal law firm’s website which said words to the effect of ‘we have the know-how to get the result you want, and for obvious reasons we can’t share that information’.”
Pioneers of the legal industry, Sydney Criminal Lawyers has developed a robust digital strategy to attract clients and gain trust with a network of content and resource rich websites and social media pages.
“We have advertising throughout our sites and are fortunate enough to source hundreds of clients every year in that way, said Ugur.”
Publishing 18 blogs each week and distributing material throughout their social network, Sydney Criminal Lawyers has certainly cracked the digital media minefield sitting at the number 1 spot on a Google organic search.
Since 2012 the firm has grown from approximately 300 cases per year to over 1500. Turnover has increased in line with this and profitability has risen at an even greater level. If there’s a lesson to be drawn from this story, it might be that you don’t have to be in the pursuit of profits to be profitable.
Ugur said “we are client and results focused rather than profit driven, we share our information with the public and are socially aware.
“By contrast, most other criminal law firms focus on achieving budgetary goals and maximising profits.”
A new age firm with a few clear principles and many facets, there doesn’t appear to be much they wont do in the name of human rights and social responsibility. While supporting a range of charities, Sydney Criminal Lawyers recently offered to represent any detention centre worker charged under the Border Force Act free of charge.
And the pursuit of high quality legal and client service appears to be paying off. The business has scooped up a number of major awards including “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” at the 2015 Corporate INTL Legal Awards and “Australian Criminal Law Firm of the Year” at the 2015 Global Law Awards. They were also a finalist at the 2015 Telstra Business Awards.
With an impressive track record, what businessperson wouldn’t want to know the secret?
Ugur said “I believe that it’s fundamental to take a step back and think about what your people want, and how to give it to them. Study the trends in the market and have a clear plan about where you are going and how to get there.
“Innovate and try to be the ‘first mover’. Don’t worry about what others who are in your industry or profession might think, many will be stuck in their ways for many years to come while you thrive.”
But then again, perhaps it’s simply a game of careful observation and common sense.