Having donned multiple professional hats as a lawyer, Prachi Shrivastava is the founder of Lawfinity Solutions– a legal and policy sector marketing firm. In this dialogue with her we learnt about her dynamic business acumen, challenges, and opportunities while marketing law practices in India. She holds expansive legal industry experience and helms a fast-growing practice in the fields of business development and marketing!
Give us a bit of background about yourself and your company.
I am a lawyer-turned-journalist, now heading Lawfinity Solutions – a law practice management and policy communications firm. I decided to meld my experience across law practice, journalism, Op-Ed writing, public relations, marketing, branding, podcasting and business development to go deeper than surface level in showcasing personalities in the legal sector. I believe my Mint columns and years of work as an editor at Legally India commenced this journey of helping to shed light on the dynamics of the Indian legal industry as it evolves daily.
I now lead a team of lawyers who have forgone core law practice as a career because they prefer delivering visibility and client growth targets for lawyers across firms, chambers and companies.
We have advised and executed on getting clients placed with the correct messaging across elite media platforms, getting communications right with current and potential clients and teams, getting ranked, driving social media engagement, developing unique campaign properties, marketing budget strategy and other activities that affect their brand.
My journalism background as a qualified lawyer powered a quest for stories on the business of law and public policy. We at Lawfinity are building deeper analytical systems to milk those stories for the highest practice growth metrics. One of our analytical systems also includes the YouTube show – The Dealmaker’s Theorem – a series of recorded interviews with General Counsel and business heads speaking about their day-to-day management challenges.
Give us insights into the company’s major offerings. And how does the company support people with its offerings?
We are a boutique marketing firm operating in the law practice and public policy sectors in India and India-facing. We partner with exceptional growing law practices of individuals, firms and corporate counsel. We advise on and execute mandates for media presence, brand profiling and pitches, lead generation and business development systems, outbound content creation and emailing and social media campaigns, awards and listings, Op-Ed/public policy writing and litigation communication, as of now. Because our occupation is to support the growth of business, our list of services is very agile. We are driven by constantly deepening our knowledge of clients and market opportunities and challenges and innovating on newer services to tackle those two head-on. We are communication and presentation experts, so any gap that we can solve through those skills, we are wide open for.
What makes your company stand out in the market?
Our authenticity makes us stand out. We’re a communications firm, and we believe we’re not worth our salt if we cannot communicate who we are in a way that connects with those who we’d like to serve. We believe that creating false scarcity, inaccessibility, obscurity, and artificial complexity of any sort are tools for the confused. These are the businesses that are challenged in spelling out their true constitution, mission and value proposition to the correct audience. And, we believe, the confusion stems from a lack of understanding of their own brand or clarity on the specific problem they are solving. Well, confusion is contagious.
Confused business equals confused messaging and an ignorant market. We do not try to present as anything we are not. We are convinced that while we need to improve, evolve and finetune, we still always have our place and our niche in the market.
Our clients come to us with their defences dropped. There’s no snazzy ‘marketer’s influence’ involved in our guidance, which they have to guard against. It’s a pure, honest analysis of what’s a problem and what’s an overreaction.
How do self-made women entrepreneurs feel in the male-dominated industry?
The same problems that plague any underdog plague women entrepreneurs in the male-dominated industry. When the underdog asserts strong boundaries, leads with pricing benchmarks, invents its ingenuous best practices and tries influencing cultural shifts, it ruffles quite a few feathers. It is natural for human self-preservation to be threatened by changes in the world order. When a subjugated cow-towing gender deigns to make rules, it takes very secure professionals and business people to take that in its intended spirit – to serve the world better. However, the secure ones are out there. In both genders. And not just in seats of ultimate power but in various designations. And it is advised to find them as soon as possible and collaborate with them. Nobody won battles alone.
Who are your clients? How do you keep your clients happy and satisfied?
We serve the legal and policy sectors. This includes law firms and their partners, legal departments and General Counsel, chamber advocates and AORs, senior advocates, think tanks and young independent lawyers.
Clients getting the reigns of their lives back in their hands make for happy clients. Each client comes to the consultant with a tangible target in mind. The target is sometimes expressed clearly, other times buried, out of hesitation or fear, in the recesses of the client’s mind. Professional strategy and years of experience help nail complex goals. And if the goals were not that complex, there was no need to consult a professional. Complexity takes time to resolve. In the meanwhile, it is not only the direct achievement of the target that gives the client a sense of control.
It is also vision. The other aspect that professional touch achieves is to make the vision and route towards the ultimate goal more and more vivid. The client is now aware of what’s done right, what doesn’t work, what should be done more, and what should be filtered out. This awareness is directly proportional to client satisfaction. With greater satisfaction, the client’s risk appetite increases because the client now has a grip on the circumstances instead of shooting in the dark. The bigger the clear vision, the larger the feeling of contentment – that has always been Lawfinity’s motto for ourselves and our client’s growth.
Is it difficult for women entrepreneurs to start a business in India?
Starting a business is the easiest thing in this day and age of online consulting solopreneurship. If you have a skill, a bank account, a smartphone and access to an internet cafe, you are pretty much an entrepreneur when you want to be. A YouTube channel teaching your skill into a camera can be the most atomic unit of entrepreneurship in this day and age. And women – the conventional powerhouse of various household administrative talents, if nothing else, are rarely without teachable skills. Even education, working capital, network and connections, the language of communication, place of residence, and corporate compliance are not entry barriers, let alone gender.
For women in captivity without recourse to law and order, or unfortunately crippled or disabled, or with less than INR 5000 in their possession – entry is a problem. The remaining aspirants are giving in and losing to their situation. Their situation may, admittedly, be galaxies more difficult than I have ever seen or imagined, but from countless stories of adversity I get to read on a daily basis all over the internet, most situations are surmountable, and India is the place to be in terms of the window of opportunities.
How do you achieve a balance between your personal and professional life?
Striking a personal-professional balance has many parallels in the art of good business development. It is tempting to cling to a ‘formula’ for success that one may have seemed to crack in the present. However, the true work in both domains is to envision the business and life as a 30-50-year bank with fixed deposits, savings schemes, investment avenues, as well as simple current and savings accounts. There’s also a pattern of income and expense. One may be tempted to keep hustling limitlessly and putting cash into the current account. Fatten it up per ambition. But when one looks at a 50-year opportunity, priorities change as compared to a 5-year opportunity. Also, when one looks at the compounding tools available to maximise the hustle of 5 years into benefits over 50 years, it emerges that there’s not just one way to enjoy the abundance of life.
Practically, it also helps to have goals and targets in various domains – not just your business – and segment the milestones to their accomplishment, dividing your hours in the day accordingly. Timetables can help pull your day into a balance by default.
What have you learned about entrepreneurship in your journey?
Entrepreneurship has been a transformational journey for me in realms much beyond my occupation.
Professionally, it has given me the confidence to go solution-first, head-on into most challenges. It has taught me that most targets are not beyond tackle on the back of systems and accountability. And even so, learning how to say “No” and expanding our scope of saying “No” is the fastest way to create value. We’re all allotted only so much impact; it is our obligation to channel our impact.
Personally, it has built my temperance muscle. As the business grows, the sheer number of stakeholders we interact with and manage grows. Clients, colleagues, vendors, media, business partners, client beneficiaries, policy voices, and so on. In a perfect world, each of the humans under these categories would understand the first principles of quid pro quo, function under strong ethics, and be humble and fair. In the world we live in, that isn’t the case. And yet, reactions, stress, ranting, and emotional extremities make us gullible, easily manoeuvred, and less productive. The work of the entrepreneur is to keep the most indomitably neutral spirit and forge forward with a smile despite personal emotions.
Professionally and personally, I’ve also learned the simple power of compounding, staying consistent, and fuelling resources into as many systems of discipline as possible – easy hacks to survive.
As a source of inspiration for many, what would your advice be for female entrepreneurs who are planning to start their own business?
This is an unpopular opinion, but start a business doing something that you’re such a natural at or have learned to be so good at that it is almost boring. Thrill-seeking, glory and fame chasing, and do-good passion are not the most intuitive triggers for a successful and scaled business. You make money when you’re the Pied Piper of a small problem that others didn’t find cute or fanciful enough or didn’t even notice the existence of. You tackle something so often that customers far and wide reach you for solutions. This gives you a chance to understand everything there is and more about this market. Thereon, you re-invest your capital back into engaging in deeper problems down the same route. It is pretty straightforward and dull; you can choose your own pace, and you must be the last man standing and keep on doing what you do so well. That’s the whole thrill of it.
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