James Love Legal winning Most Entrepreneurial Exporter
Law firms might not be the first businesses to spring to mind when you think about exporting, but James Love legal has been doing business internationally since it was formed 12 years ago.
Having recently been awarded the title of Most Entrepreneurial Exporter at the Northern Powerhouse Export Awards, James explains some of the ups and downs of being a Yorkshire law firm doing business as far afield as China and the USA.
He said: “We were finding that a lot of businesses in this country take their legal work to London, and we found it’s actually easier to persuade foreign businesses to use a law firm in Yorkshire than it is to persuade UK businesses to use a law firm in Yorkshire!
“This is because there’s a perception - and I think it’s an entirely wrong perception - that a lot of the best legal advice must come from London. With that in mind, when I set the business up 12 years ago our prime strategy was to get as much work from international businesses as we could and that’s been very successful. We’ve persuaded some very big businesses like Tetrapak, tomtom and H&M to send their work to us rather than going to a London firm.”
The business, which specialises in copyright and intellectual property law has clients in 38 countries and does a lot of work in the USA, Germany, Sweden and Spain, but more recently has been targeting the Chinese market.
James said: “China is a main target market of ours, I do a lot of travel to China because their economy is growing at a fast rate and we see that as a great area for the future, so that’s our main push for getting new work.
“When I started, I thought I would encounter a lot of competition from other UK law firms trying to work in China, and that they would be my key competitors, but actually I didn’t find that at all. I found that the Chinese were already doing a lot of work with German and Spanish firms who had been targeting the Chinese market for much longer.
“I was having to persuade customers not to take their work to Spain or Germany, where they had established relationships, but to bring it to our firm. There were two hurdles I had to overcome. One was to persuade them not to go to Spain or Germany, but to come to the UK, and the other was if they were coming to the UK, not to go to London but to come to Yorkshire!”
Persuading Chinese firms to send their work to China turned out to be surprisingly straightforward. “In the UK, Yorkshire is seen as being a long way away from London” James explains. “However, in China if you tell people you’re a two-hour train journey from London, as far they’re concerned, you’re in London!”
Being based in Yorkshire is an important part of the business for James, and his love of promoting his home is what prompted him to enter the Northern Powerhouse Export Awards.
He said: “We’re very pro-north. We like promoting the north wherever we go.
“We’re just a small business and sometimes when I promote myself it can be difficult, what I find much easier is promoting the north of England and telling people we’re part of this booming, thriving business community. When I heard about the Northern Powerhouse Export Awards, I thought that sounded like something we really ought to be getting involved in.”
Winning Most Entrepreneurial Exporter has boosted the law firm, helping to raise its profile. James said: “I think it just helps our profile and gets our name out there and I have absolutely no doubt that it will have helped our brand profile and potentially assisting future work.”
Now he plans to use this success to further the business’s reputation internationally. “In terms of new markets, we’ve got an eye on south America at the minute” said James. “We’re trying to grow our contacts there, but our key focus is still on trying to increase our Chinese and USA trade.”
Nominations are closing soon (30 November), but there's still time for you to nominate your business for the PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards in association with HSBC and the Department for International Trade.
The international trade campaign seeks to recognise the most entrepreneurial exporters from across the North of England.
For more info and to submit your nomination visit www.northernexportawards.co.uk.
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