Empowering Legal Businesses through Marketing: An Interview with Helen Foord

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Join us for an enlightening interview as we explore the world of legal marketing with Helen Foord, co-founder of Helen Squared. With a career spanning both in-house and agency roles, Helen offers valuable perspectives on the unique marketing challenges that legal businesses encounter.

Helen highlights the significance of content marketing in showcasing expertise and fostering trust. She unravels the secrets behind her team’s remarkable success at Helen Squared, where collaboration and industry expertise empower legal businesses to achieve excellence in their marketing.

Let’s start by talking about your journey into the exciting world of legal marketing. How did you end up where you are today?

I began my journey by doing marketing and business at university and, like so many at that ‘dot-com-bubble’ point in time, ended up working with start-up tech companies straight out of university.  These included working in social networking and online learning during their very early days. It didn’t take long for me to realise, however, that being 22 years old and managing national events and sales posed considerable risks, not just for the business but also for my own career growth. Despite the excitement of being involved in these innovative projects, I found myself shouldering responsibilities that far exceeded my level of experience, with no one to learn from. It was a fast and fabulous environment, but the lack of mentorship hindered my professional development.

So, when I spotted a job in a law firm, it seemed the perfect place to learn my craft, as it were, in a more structured environment. I joined Blake Morgan LLP(Morgan Cole as was) as a junior marketing executive in their employment team just after the merger of Welsh firm Morgan Bruce and Thames Valley firm Cole and Cole. It was a challenging but inspiring environment –  a bit of a baptism of fire – but it turned out to be one of the most inspiring environments I’ve had the privilege to work in, and I learned valuable lessons.

Fundamental to this was the guidance and management I received from my line manager, business development manager Craig Millhouse, who now leads a company specialising in public sector tendering. He will be the first to admit that we butted heads at times (I’ll be honest, like most 20-somethings new to the workplace, I thought I had all the answers and rarely did), but he stands as one of the most inspirational managers I’ve ever had. It was my first taste of legal marketing and all that meant, in practical terms. Working with him I gained profound insights into my own shortcomings and areas for growth, learning the art of managing and inspiring people while also juggling corporate hierarchies and law firm politics, challenging personalities and the techniques needed to run projects effectively. I also learned about the importance of listening to clients, which has stayed fundamental to my work today.

Navigating the legal marketing landscape at this point was a very different experience than it is now. This was before the advent of email marketing and social media strategies. I was responsible for sending off hundreds of  fax invitations and direct marketing materials, as well as hard copy mail shots, and flyers to promote the firm’s employment services. We worked on a number of innovative pitch ideas and seminar event invitations as well as one of the first online learning programmes delivered by an employment law team – which I loved. And we worked on creating a solid web presence for the practice area, which it had never had before. Through this experience, I recognised the immense value of cultivating a strong network, a lesson that remains instrumental in my work today – I still work with many of the designers and developers I met at Morgan Cole.

After a couple of years I moved to head up the marketing at a well-respected barristers’ chambers in London, going from there to a number of other roles in law firms, before eventually embracing the freelance life and setting up my own legal marketing agency – and the rest is history!

An interesting journey! What do you believe are the biggest marketing challenges faced by legal businesses, and how do you tackle them?

The biggest challenge in marketing, not just for law firms but any business, is understanding and engaging with people effectively. We all know we need to listen to clients, but few realise that really hearing what they have to say, and then responding to their needs and wants, form separate but equally essential parts of the process.

In the legal sector, marketing is generally about selling a service rather than a universal product, and that adds complexity. Law firms consist of individuals with different strengths and personalities, and marketing should cater to various client motivations. To address this challenge, we help law firms prioritise their audiences, identify what they want, and craft marketing and business development strategies tailored to those needs. And a big part of this is helping them to really hear what these audiences are saying.

Could you share a favourite success story where your marketing efforts turned heads and impressed the legal business?

Success stories for me aren’t about big flashy campaigns or going viral. I enjoy witnessing a sceptical individual take a step forward and try something new. Seeing them get results, whether it’s an increase in followers, engagement, or inquiries about work, is truly rewarding. It’s those small but brave steps that motivate and inspire me. I’ve had the pleasure of working with clients who initially were hesitant but later became confident in their marketing efforts, which feels like a real success to me.

Staying ahead in the evolving world of legal marketing can be challenging. What do you do to keep up?

The ever-changing landscape of legal marketing means it’s impossible to stay ahead on your own. I surround myself with brilliant people, like Helen Burness. I rely on a network of experts with different strengths. Our combined expertise and experience enable us to provide comprehensive solutions to our clients. We’ve honed our skills over the years and understand how to leverage each other’s strengths for the best results. Collaboration, and continuously learning from others in the industry, is the key to staying ahead.

How powerful is content marketing for legal businesses, and how can they leverage it for success?

Content marketing is immensely powerful for law firms because the essence of their business lies in knowledge and application. Clients are essentially buying the expertise of lawyers, and content marketing is the perfect way to showcase that expertise. Content allows those in the professional services to communicate their values, approach, and how they interact with clients within the context of their expertise. By crafting content that aligns with the firm’s brand and values, law firms can effectively engage clients and stand out in a competitive market.

What sets Helen Squared apart from other legal marketing services?

What makes Helen Squared unique is our extensive experience and track record of success. With over 40 years of combined experience, we have been at the forefront of some of the legal market’s biggest transformations, over recent years. We bring together a team with expertise in different areas, offering a relevant solution to all clients – whether small, legal disruptor brands or global law firms. I honestly think that we offer something really special at Helen Squared, that empowers our clients to take charge of their marketing while offering the support and expertise they require to succeed.

Could you share your insights into the future of legal marketing? Any exciting trends or strategies to look out for?

The fundamentals of legal marketing won’t change drastically, but the way we apply them will continue to evolve every single day. That’s what’s fun about it! I believe that the key lies in harnessing the expertise of others. By partnering with individuals and teams that excel in their respective fields, law firms can create a strong marketing strategy that adapts to new trends and challenges. It’s about embracing the power of collaboration and staying agile in an ever-changing landscape.

One last question, what drives your passion and motivation in helping legal businesses with their marketing?

My passion comes from working with brilliant people. I love the fact that I can work with some of the greatest legal minds in the world, yet they come to me for help with getting their (often inspiring) messages out there. Empowering others to make a difference through effective, honest and ethical communication is something that truly motivates me.

If you are a legal business feeling like the Helen Squared approach is the missing piece in your marketing puzzle, reach out to us to secure your spot in our upcoming Five Steps to Five Star Marketing programme. You can contact Helen Foord on and Helen Burness here.

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