Lowry Legal managing partner Katie McCann was recently interviewed by Law.com on setting up her own specialist family legal practice in 2021 in conjunction with Excello Libertas, which provides a range of back-office support services to the firm including finance, IT, marketing, office space and employment and HR services.
Having worked in a number of large, traditional law firms, it was the pandemic that convinced Katie that she could launch her own business, made possible through the Excello Libertas platform. “I feel energised again and in control of my own direction. I feel like the world is my oyster so to speak. Being able to create something from the ground up and watch it develop, change and grow is exhilarating.”
You can read the full interview below or log in at Law.com here
1. How long have you been an attorney?
I began my legal career as a paralegal in a niche family law firm in 2001 and qualified as a solicitor in 2005. I then transferred to the Bar and was called in 2009. I practiced out of chambers until 2013, when I went in house at a commercial law firm in Manchester. I have remained in employed practice until 2021 when I set up Lowry Legal in conjunction with Excello Law Ltd.
2. What year did you start your current firm?
In April 2021.
3. Where were you (what were you doing) prior to starting your firm?
I was working in “big law”, for want of a better description, and spent time at Irwin Mitchell and Knights plc.
4. What was the biggest surprise you experienced in starting your firm?
How much work is involved! Whilst you do have the freedom you have long since craved, the hours needed to get things off the ground are immense!
5. What do you think was the deciding point to start your own firm?
Definitely the pandemic, specifically the lockdowns. I was at home, working independently and all my work was coming directly to me from contacts I had developed over the years. It was the eureka moment I needed to realise that I could do this for myself. The lockdowns also gave me much needed space to reflect on my career to that point and think about what I really wanted to achieve. It put things into perspective for me.
6. Describe how you feel about your career now that you’ve started your own firm?
I feel energised again and in control of my own direction. I feel like the world is my oyster so to speak. Being able to create something from the ground up and watch it develop, change and grow is exhilarating.
7. What challenges or obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome when starting your firm?
Unfortunately, I lost my father in June 2021. It was a massive blow to me personally as we were extremely close. I had only just started to get things moving and I had no choice other than to plough forward. Having to balance life, family, health, and friendships is especially difficult when running your own business, due to the amount of time you need to invest to make things work. Adjusting to this has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced thus far. Secondary to this has been managing the rapid rise in workload,, running the firm and actively looking for new members of the team to slot into place.
8. What’s the key to successful business development in your opinion?
Having a message, a vision and going out there and promoting it. Whether that be in person or digitally this is vitally important, especially in HNW matrimonial cases. Consistency in your delivery of work is similarly crucial. I don’t think success comes overnight, rather it is something that requires a lot of hard work. But the most important thing is to not try and be perfect. Someone once said to me when I was a trainee solicitor sitting looking lost at a dinner…go to as many events as you can…approach them with an open mind and curiosity…you never know who you will get talking to and the opportunities that could flourish from that one meeting!
9. What is the biggest change, day to day in your routine since starting your own firm?
I make a conscious effort to prioritise my health and wellbeing. Every morning I make sure that I build in some time for movement, whether that be walking the dog or training in the gym. Previously, it was really hard to fit this in consistently when I was working on someone else’s schedule. Keeping fit, and tending to your wellbeing, especially in the cut and thrust of the legal world, is incredibly important in my view. It allows you to keep perspective and be significantly more productive and focused during your day.
10. Who has had the greatest influence in our career that helped propel you to where you are today?
There have been a great number of people that have touched me along the way so far, and I’m sure there will be many more. Two in particular were my pupil master, who is now a senior judge, and my supervisor in my very first role, who now also runs her own firm. It is not just lawyers that inspire me, though, it is anyone that has taken that step into the unknown and had the courage to step over that mark into entrepreneurship. Anyone that thinks outside of the box and looks for possibilities and solutions as opposed to problems has always been a big inspiration to me.
11. What advice would you give someone that is considering launching their own firm/business?
Be realistic. This is not just a job role; this will take over your entire life. Do you have the time to devote to this? Do you have a growth mindset as opposed to recoiling every time there is an issue? Can you lead others and understand that a firm is not solely about you, but about the people that come to work with you?
12. What Impact would you like to have on the legal industry? (eg Any specific initiatives you are working on, goals, visions for the future)
One of my personal goals is to develop my reputation as a legal commentator…as a barrister, I like to talk! I also want to create something that truly embodies the nature of service; service of our clients and service of the people that make up the community of the firm. I think a lot of law firms pay lip service to this, but don’t actually deliver.