Babs Neilan Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
Introducing Babs Neilan
Babs Neilan is today’s guest on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots podcast interview.
She is the founder, CEO and solicitor of Jamieson Law.
Jamieson Law is a small (but very mighty) UK and Irish law firm specialising in business law and brand protection.
They are unique as from the start of her business they have done things differently, let me tell you why.
As she says “I started my legal career journey just like many others do.
I did my postgraduate, I trained with a top law firm in Scotland, I was ready to climb the legal ladder up to partner level over the years.
When I qualified I thought “YES! It’s my time to shine, to finally help loads of business owners grow their businesses”…oh boy, did I realise how wrong I was.
How The Dots Joined Up For Babs
Working in the traditional law firm setting I realised that this was just not for me.
The lightbulb moment for me was realising that I became a lawyer to help people, and I was doing the absolute opposite of that.
I didn’t believe in what other firms stood for, which meant I wasn’t serving the business, the clients or myself.
After mulling it over for a long (it’s difficult when you have a career set out in front of you!) I decided to leave.
I freelanced as a commercial solicitor for a while.
This is where I realised what the business world was screaming: a legal advice service that served them, rather than fought against them at every turn.
And so I started Jamieson Law.
Initially it was just me, a one man band on a mission to shake up the world of legal.
I’ll be honest, it was absolutely terrifying – trying to make this difference and build my firm in an industry that has top firms cemented in place, building myself up in a sphere that is still very much so male dominated, but I was determined.
And that is the perfect place to start todays episode of Join Up Dots.
So what has been the hardest part of growing her law firm, discovering the amount she didn’t know about building a business or just trusting herself to make it happen?
And does she recall the moment in the business building when she suddenly thought “I think I can relax now….we are on our way?”
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the founder of Jamieson Law, the one and only Babs Neilan
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Babs such as:
Babs shares openly how she has a business methodology of winging it until the right answer comes to her which has worked just fine.
We talk about the early stages of building her business, and getting rid of the marketing to someone who has the passion for the task
Why working our way through the process of hiring can often lead to us hiring based on feelings and emotions more than skills.
Babs talks about the long hours and effort that she is willing to put in to make sure that her clients are getting the service that they deserve.
How To Connect With Jamieson Law
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy
Full Transcription Of Babs Neilan Interview
Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock. And start getting the dream business and life you will, of course, are dreaming of. Let’s join your host, David Ralph from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another JAM PACKED episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:40]
Yet Good morning to Charles. Good morning to you and welcome to Join Up Dots. Thank you very much for being here on another episode of the hit podcast. Yeah, is a podcast. It goes up and down. But hey, we’ve been going for a decade now. So it must be doing something right? Well, today’s guest is certainly doing something right because she is the founder CEO and solicitor of Jamison law, which is a small she says that but very mighty, UK, an Irish law firm specialising in business law and brand protection. They are unique as from the start of her business, they’ve done things differently. And she tells you why. She says I am the founder scene oh and solicitor of this business. And it’s unique because I started my legal career journey just like many others do. I did my postgraduate I trained up with a top law firm in Scotland, I was ready to climb the legal ladder up to partner level over the years. And when I qualified I thought, Yes, it’s my time to shine to finally help loads of business owners grow their businesses. Oh, boy did I realise how wrong I was working in a traditional law firm setting. I realised that it wasn’t for me. And the light bulb moment for me was realising that I became a lawyer to help people. And I was doing the absolute opposite of fat. I didn’t believe in what other firms stood for, which meant I wasn’t serving the business, the clients or myself, well, she ploughed through it. And then she decided that she was going to shake off everything, and start Jamison law. And as she says, initially, it was just me a one man band on a mission to shake up the world of legal and I’ll be honest, it was absolutely terrifying trying to make this difference and build my firm in an industry that has top firms cemented in place, building myself up in a sphere that is still very much so male dominated. But I was determined. And that is the perfect place to start today’s episode of Join Up Dots. So what has been the hardest part of growing the law firm discovering the amount she didn’t know about building a business, or just trusting herself that she could make it happen? Until she recalled a moment in the business building when she suddenly fall? I think I can relax now we’re on our way. Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the founder of Jamison law, the one and only Babs Neilan. Good morning to you, Babs. How are you?
Babs Neilan [3:03]
That’s that’s quite an intro. David. Thanks so much. I’m good. Thank you. How are you doing?
David Ralph [3:07]
I’m doing very well. It is quite an intro and actually cut it out as I was, as I was reading it, I thought God, this is just gonna be me for an hour telling her story. But then let’s dive straight into because you’ve created a law firm. Which to be honest, I went over to it, I’m not that happy. There’s no men involved at all. Are you anti men? Is this going to be how it stays forever?
Babs Neilan [3:30]
We’re not anti men. And you know what’s really funny about that we’ve had so much. And we’ve had so much feedback on that. It was never the intention for it to be an all female firm. And actually, I would say about 80% of our clients are actually male. So it’s really bizarre and but we do get some some kind of potential male clients come on the phone and they say to us, am I in the right place? Am I not meant to be here? And we’re actually hiring for a lawyer at the moment. We just haven’t had any male applicants. It’s really bizarre. That’s how we’ve ended up here.
David Ralph [3:58]
I think you should stick to that baseline girl power. You know, if you’ve got our Harry asked man on the end of the Spice Girls, it wouldn’t have worked with it. It’s got to be VAT is another thing that makes your business unique. Well,
Babs Neilan [4:11]
absolutely what I never wanted to look like the ones that were on. We are at a famous mission in a week. But I never wanted to look at chronic crazy anti main mission and that, you know, clients, new clients can’t come and work with us and stuff. So it’s a fine line.
David Ralph [4:24]
Well, I like the line that you trade. And as I looked at it, and I thought to myself, yeah, this is how it should be. She’s building it totally on her terms, the whole branding and everything. Now, I want to jump back to that that moment, okay, because as everybody knows who builds a business, you’re sitting there in your special underpants if you’re a man and you’re thinking to yourself, I reckon I could do this. I’ve got the skills, I’ve got the talent, but actually building a business. There’s an awful lot that you don’t realise you don’t know until you find out you don’t know it. And there’s an awful lot of time where you finish a day’s work. And you think to yourself, I haven’t really done anything today, I’ve just, I’ve just struggled through finding out things. I don’t know, how do you overcome that? How do you make something look professional enough, especially in an environment like law that has to be professional? But you’re still building it up as you go along?
Babs Neilan [5:17]
Well, do you know? Probably the wrong answer here, David. But the the approach for me seems to be just kind of winging it until you’ve worked out what you’re meant to be doing. Yeah. And to be honest, like, when I set off on my own, as you said, in the intro, I was a one man band, and I had absolutely no intention really, of growing this beyond just me and maybe one other person. And I wanted to shake things up. I wanted to do things really, really differently. But I had no plan. I had no like year, people about the one year plan, three year plan, five year plan, I had none of that. I had no idea what it was meant to be doing. It was genuinely more just like, What will I do this particular day, week, month, and I started, freelancing didn’t really need, you know, a law firm licence to do that. And But then one day, I thought, you know, what, may just get one that probably makes sense, and then got one and then thought, you know, I may, I may just hire someone here, just just to kind of help out, did that. And then it kind of just grew from there. Now, we’ve been going for two and a half years, and it is becoming a bit more like, let’s have a plan, let’s have goals and strategy, etc. But it was never like that at all. And, and to be honest, a lot of the time, it was somebody mentioning something to me, or, you know, there being a gap and me realising that I hadn’t thought of something. And to be honest, I think that’s the same with most startup profit. I
David Ralph [6:36]
think you’re totally right. And I think goals are brilliant. But actually planning how to get there. I think it kills a lot of spontaneity. And the journey is the gold. Now you can save out once you’ve got to a certain point. And we all sit there smug, but actually doing it, I still think it’s true to just, you know, turn up every day, do the work as best as you can, and kind of wing it. I think it’s perfect the way you’ve done it.
Babs Neilan [7:06]
Oh, thank you. That’s the way I’ve done it from the start is, it’s exactly that turn up, do the best you can. And you know what, just just be the best person you can be. That’s something that we hope really comes through with the farmers that were nice people, like lawyers get a terrible, terrible rap for the way that you can treat your clients or other people that they’re dealing with, not all large like that. It’s a stereotype. But it’s a stereotype for a reason. And our mantra was always, you know, turn up, do a good job, be nice to your clients. And we’ll just see what happens really, and it’s worked out well for us.
David Ralph [7:37]
Now, let’s take you back to that moment. Because I was interested with this when you suddenly realised that you didn’t like the businesses that you were operating, you didn’t believe in their sort of mission. Now, at the end of the day, all businesses have clients, all businesses are there to make profits. What was that disconnect with you?
Babs Neilan [7:59]
I think so when I trained after you do your kind of undergraduate, postgraduate and then your traineeship, you know, you spent the whole time in the traineeship just working through and trying to qualify and trying to get offered a job at the end of it. And it’s only when you get offered that job in that big firm and actually get into the day to day that you think this is just this is just not what I was expecting. When I went to law school at 18, you know, bright eyed and bushy tailed thinking I was going to change the world. And
David Ralph [8:26]
wasn’t it perhaps
Babs Neilan [8:27]
because, well, you know, we’re told from the beginning, as lawyers, you’ll work long hours, it’s a stressful life, you’ll have to give up a lot of your social life, that’s actually all fine. We kind of all that is probably not acceptable, really. But we all kind of just noise I hate it is rubbish. But we all do kind of subscribe to that. And obviously, it’s not any different running your own business. In fact, it’s probably worse. And but the difference is the differences is that I felt that there was a real disconnect between what was expected versus what was required. So there was definitely a kind of presenteeism culture. So everybody sit at the desk till 10 o’clock 11 o’clock at night, even if the work wasn’t there to be done. And just because it showed you were committed. And the other the other aspect of it was the way that clients were treated in particular and the firms that I trained with and worked closely with the Big Four firm and you know, they they wanted obviously we get that we want the big clients with the big names in the buildings, that’s fine. But it means that if a smaller clients a client with less money, and are just not as you know, prestigious came in the door, we weren’t able to give them the service they wanted, they weren’t always treated well because frankly, a lot of the partners that I worked with didn’t really have the time or the inclination to be particularly nice to them. And I also didn’t really like like, you know, the way that lawyers tend to charge you know, somebody phones up asks a quick question, it takes you four minutes, they have a bill for 250 quid coming through the door and If it didn’t feel transparent to me, it didn’t feel very open and honest. And yes, we all need to make money. But I think at the end of the day, lawyers are meant to be there to help people.
David Ralph [10:11]
I Well, I agree, we’re all there to help people. You know, I just before I was recording this, I was having a conversation with someone. And they said, I really want to start a business, but I don’t really want to deal with anyone. And I say, you’re gonna deal with someone, even if it’s just a button that they click on your website. Ultimately, somebody’s behind, it’s all about dealing with people as good as possible. Now, when you actually sitting there, as I say, and it’s you, first of all, and I don’t like the way that you say, a, a one man band, we’re gonna call it a one woman band. I’m gonna jump on to the girl power thing. So you’re sitting there. And one of the things that I’ve discovered so many times through entrepreneurship is people know, they should delegate out. But we don’t know what to delegate out. And they think, Well, I can just do it myself. And in many regards, I’m still like that, I’ve got it to such a fine tuned, but I don’t really do much work. But I do most of it myself, because I can just sort of pass it out quickly. Yeah. Why did you do that? Why did you delegate out? And did you sort of say, well, what we want? Is somebody to come in and do this and that and then sort of fine tune it later? Or did you ever fixed sort of routine that you wanted them to achieve? Well,
Babs Neilan [11:27]
it really kind of got to the stage where I was thinking. So the first person I hired essentially was somebody to help me with social media, marketing, etc. But I didn’t have the funds to hire somebody who was professional in that area. And so the girl that I hired is actually still with me now. She was a uni student at the time, she was in her final year of law degree actually. And, and I needed someone to do the social media posting and to kind of answer claim, you know, people that were interested in coming in and being clients of the firm, that kind of thing. The reason that was the first thing I delegated out was because I hated it. And I hated it, it took me so much time. But if I’m totally honest, and I hate to admit this, and hopefully he never listens, but it was my husband, it was my husband who said to me, but you’re the one doing the legal work, you have to be focused on the legal work on the clients, you can’t be being pulled in and out of LinkedIn messages and trying to think up things your copy to write on your LinkedIn feed and all of these things. And, and he was growing and scaling a business as well, at the same time, but he was a couple years ahead of me. And he said, the sooner you delegate, the sooner your life becomes a little bit easier. And you’ll start to grow and scale now.
David Ralph [12:38]
When when they’re right, your partner is right.
Babs Neilan [12:42]
I hate when they’re right. And he’s he’s been right about, you know, most of the time, there was one hire that he pushed me to make about a urine, I think there was there was definitely a mistake at the time. But the rest have been completely correct. And, and it is true, I think that I’m just like you you can you can, you can stand in your own way. And you can think that I can do this best. And you probably can do this best, but you won’t grow in scale, and you won’t achieve the dreams that you want to, if you’re stubborn about that, and I am very stubborn about it. But it’s something I’ve had to kind of get over.
David Ralph [13:15]
I’m gonna say something that might surprise you about and it might surprise many people out there. But I hate social media. And I think the majority of social media is a complete waste of time. You see people they’re on LinkedIn, they’re on here, they’re on there, I just think, where are your audience and just do that, just find one platform and just do that. And we’ve me on a just podcast, really, I don’t do anything else other than podcasts, because I think there’s probably a thing I can do easier and do the best. So
Babs Neilan [13:49]
we do track the numbers. Although that’s a relatively new thing. We’ve probably only done that in the last year or so. And when we started out, we thought, right, we’ll just create four or five pieces of content, which feels like a lot. But we’ll create four or five pieces of content a day, we’ll put it across Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And we’ll see what works. And to be honest, we’ve tweaked it over over time, and kind of our tone of voice has changed. And what we put out there has changed. But we have stayed consistent with that. And LinkedIn is our biggest platform for client work to come through. And we we do track the numbers we are posting there, as I said four or five times a day. And we also reach out to people we offer free legal advice calls as a firm, they’re completely no obligation and we don’t sail on those calls. The only time that we would kind of give any courts for work or anything like that is if we are specifically asked now that seems to be a very unique approach for the legal sector to be just offering up free time. And because of that, through LinkedIn, our presence has really, really grown. So now it’s a case of we just stay visible. The amount of outreach we have to do now is significantly less So, but we I, you know, I do have clients who say things to me like, I still watch all your videos, and I saw one the other day, and it got me to get in touch with you because I needed to talk about my shareholders agreement or something like that. And in terms of our other platforms, and Facebook, if we just post on Facebook, because the posts are there, and we may as well, and we get the odd lead from Facebook, and it takes two minutes, but we don’t ever really see it as a kind of very effective funnel. And an Instagram we, we do use because one of our lawyers on the team, Laura, she has a real niche with kind of very small business owners, people like personal trainers, coaches, and we get a lot of contract and trademark work from there. So having a presence, specifically on Instagram, and LinkedIn is really, really helpful. And we have tried the social media ads, we’ve tried Facebook ads, Instagram ads, LinkedIn ads, we’ve tried several different agencies for our business, it doesn’t seem to work. And actually the really organic approach and just putting out genuinely helpful content to people, which is what we’re trying to do, making sure that we’re always educating people and always coming across as really friendly and helpful. That That seems to be working for us.
David Ralph [16:15]
Great. Let’s hear from Oprah. And we’ll be back with Babs the way
Oprah Winfrey [16:18]
through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, oh, I got all of this. What is the next right move. And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move, and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [16:49]
Now, I love those words dependent on where my mood is at the time. And sometimes I listen to it and think yes, spot on. And other times I think, well, how do you know the right next move? How do you know that it’s going to be the right direction to go. So when you were starting with it, and I was trying to work out why it was called Jamison law, first of all, so I’m going to ask you about so what why is why is it not Nealon law or anything like that, but Janus
Babs Neilan [17:14]
was my maiden name. And when I set up the firm, I was Babs Jameson. So there’s a simple reason
David Ralph [17:20]
why okay, I thought there was dark intent behind. There’s nothing at all. Right. Okay. So how do you know, right at the very beginning, and this is to like all people thinking of starting a business, what the first right move is,
Babs Neilan [17:35]
I don’t think you ever know, I think you just have to go with your gut. And that probably doesn’t sound like it’s coming from a lawyer who would be very methodical and logical about everything. But I genuinely think that’s the right thing. And I strongly believe that if something feels against your gut, then it feels against your gut for a reason. And probably the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my business journey, have been listening to other people when it doesn’t feel right to me. And but but going ahead with it, because it logically makes sense. So I’d say the next move, always feels scary. Always feels Oh, my goodness, am I gonna be able to do this? And you know, are we going to have the money for this? Is this too big a step, I think always feel like that. But if it really feels against the grain of what you’re trying to do, your gut will tell you,
David Ralph [18:20]
because your business scares me. Because I would be I’d be the world’s worst lawyer. And I used to work in insurance and banking. And I always used to clash with the HR lady. Because I was Oh, come on, let’s just do it. You know, it doesn’t matter. Nobody else knows. We just sort of do it. And she’s got no, no, you’ve got to do it properly. You can’t do it this way. Now, when you’re starting as well, you must have huge sort of impostor syndrome that even though you’ve been trained, and you know, all this stuff, once you’re doing it yourself, it takes a while to grow into yourself. So tell us about that. Yeah, I
Babs Neilan [18:52]
mean, that’s that’s been major for me impostor syndrome. And as you say, you know, you know how to be a lawyer. But there’s a couple of things you’ve known, you’ve not been a business owner before. And so that’s one element of it. But the other one is that, you know, you’ve been trained to be a lawyer, but you’re not really sure if you’re a very good lawyer, and you’ve always been working alongside other people. So you’ve always had that backing. And so it’s been major for me and Jamison law started out. God, it was November 2019. So we’re almost a few years now. And I would say it has taken till probably the start of this year, to not feel impostor syndrome all the time. And that would feed into things like emails coming in and thinking, oh my god, what is this person going to say to me? And, you know, do I even know what I’m doing? Do I know what I’m talking about? And I think I’ve had other people ask me about this before, you know other people that are trying to grow their businesses and say, Oh, I just don’t think I’m good enough or I just don’t think that somebody’s going to find me out at some point. And the only the only advice really or kind of perception I can give on it is is Just the way that it feels until you’ve settled into long enough and had enough experience like I mean, I have been in the trenches with the business for almost two years now, it would be strange, I think if I still had impostor syndrome, because I’m living and breathing it every single day. So there is an element of just getting into it and being so involved in it. And I mean, running up businesses committing your whole life to something. So committing your whole life to this and just knowing that you know exactly what you’re doing, and the confidence grows as the business grows. And I think what else really helped me was I took on a business partner, and October last year now, she she’s actually been my friend for 10 years. She she trained me when I was her trainee, and years and years ago, and she’s been my friend, now
David Ralph [20:45]
you got the power? Well, we’re running to Starbucks, doing things like that.
Babs Neilan [20:52]
Well, we’re partners, but yeah, she came in. And, you know, once she found her feet, when she’d been there a couple of months. It gave me so much security, and, and even more confidence, just, I guess, knowing she was there. But also knowing that I, you know, she trained me initially. And the two of us were kind of working alongside together really, really well. And I guess that’s when my confidence really grew was having someone else there with me as well.
David Ralph [21:25]
I’ve had a few business partners in the early days of Join Up Dots, and I look back on it, it was just that I didn’t have the competence in myself. And so it was like, Oh, I know more than me, are using them. And we all fell out. And it was always because of work ethic. My work ethic was off the scale to the point that it caused me health issues, and I had to sort of deal with that. But they were very much like, Oh, I get it done tomorrow, or it wasn’t that important. There was a disconnect. Now, when you’re ploughing through and as you say building a business is living it 24/7 And your business partner is a in a Cornetto on a park bench at lunchtime because it’s a lovely sunny day. Do you think to yourself? Well, that’s fair enough, you know, she puts the effort in or do you go, I wish I could eat Cornetto on a sunny day.
Babs Neilan [22:14]
You know, I don’t have that problem, because my business partner has the exact same work ethic as me. So unfortunately, it is for both of us, unfortunately. But it is the two of us at 11 o’clock at night still messaging, saying have you got on that contract yet? Have you sorted that out yet? So I was would always have been against the idea of a business partner. And for various reasons had it not been lens specifically. And she I’ve known her as I said, for years, I really, really trust her, which I think is a big thing. And but she also does have the same work ethic as me, I have to say I do struggle with that, though, when it comes to other team members. And I’m just like to just maybe get in the trenches, they’re with us and, and work there. And of course you can’t expect them to it’s not their business. But sometimes when it’s tiring and stressful, you think it’d be nice if you know, we were all splitting the load of it here. But that’s the perils of being being a business owner, I
David Ralph [23:09]
guess. Now, can I tell you, Babs, and hopefully this doesn’t come across as creepy. You’re a young lady, you’re full of vibrancy, working to 11 o’clock every night, you’re going to end up looking like one of these hackers. In a corner, surrounded by dusty files and stuff is not good.
Babs Neilan [23:31]
It’s not good. And to be honest, it comes in waves. So this seems to be how the business grows is that it’s all fine for a while and hours are long for lawyers, but they don’t, they’re not necessarily crazy and you have weekends off. And then there seems to be it shoots up. And all of a sudden, very quickly is very, very busy quicker than you’ve been able to hire. So I gave you an example in me, Linda and I were saying, you know, we should think about probably hiring another lawyer, I think we’re on the up and up. So we said let’s have a conversation about it at the start of August. We didn’t get to the start of August, we got to third week in July. And we looked at each other and said we can’t do this anymore. You know, we really, really need help. And actually in the last few weeks, it’s got to the stage where we’re interviewing. And it’s taking a while the market isn’t easy to hire, and at the moment, and but we’re looking at each other every night and thinking geez, like we really, we really need help here. But the problem is that you don’t you don’t want to hire too quickly. Because you don’t know if the money is necessarily going to be there but then you obviously don’t want to leave it too late and I think we’re quite guilty of leaving it too late. And the dream is not to be working till 11 o’clock every night. As you see I don’t want to end up like a haggard old woman and and but I think we just have to go through these maybe once every, I don’t know eight, nine months. We go through this kind of two month period where it’s so busy and we don’t get a lot of sleep and but it seems to be when we’re moving to the next level of The business.
David Ralph [25:00]
The other thing that worries me is that you’re friendly, which is lovely. If you come across your website, it’s all smiles, it’s all happiness. And the whole website looks friendly as well with the font seems friendly, you know, it’s a lovely thing to do. Now, when you hire somebody who turns out to be an idiot, three months down the line, and how are you going to be able to sort of get rid of them? Is it going to be you have you got somebody in a cupboard somewhere that you just bring out every now and again, when they need to get rid of that person?
Babs Neilan [25:31]
Well, I am friendly. But remember, I’m a lawyer, which means I have, I have an element to my personality that I normally use to, to defend my clients and to get the best outcome for my clients. But I can certainly use it when needed, I have had to get rid of someone before who was not the right fit for the business at all whatsoever. And although I didn’t like it, I did do it. And I did realise that the business needed me to do it. And so I actually don’t have a problem with that, if it if it needs to be like them. I used
David Ralph [26:01]
to love firing people. I was, I had no qualms at all, because I just felt it’s fair to be said, You’re not doing the job, you’re out and it would make my life easier. Unfortunately, through my hiring, I still have people now 25 years, 30 years down the line that will see me in the street and they say hello, Mr. Mouth. They never call me David is always messed around. And they always you know, my recruitment was very, very good. Because most of the time I didn’t care about what they were bringing to the table. I cared about how they made me feel.
Babs Neilan [26:33]
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s actually you’ve hit the nail on the head there. I think that’s exactly at one of my hires. And about a year and a half ago now. She’s still with us. And she’s an Irish girl. And yeah, I mean, she on our first interview, I actually didn’t, I don’t think I asked her even as many questions as I probably should have. But it was the way she made me feel in the interview, just felt very calm. And like I could probably trust her. Once I got to Nora, and it was exactly that I just got a really good vibe from her really.
David Ralph [27:04]
Now when you once again, let’s jump back into the building the business, there’s always going to be cashflow problems, there’s going to be times when the cash is coming in lovely, you expand and then the income doesn’t go the same way and stuff is something that now you’ve been doing it a few years, because you kind of started your business probably at the worst time of the pandemic. You know, I look at it now. And I think to myself, some people have spoken to me and they’ve gone now the pandemic was brilliant. It really exploded our business because everyone was on Zoom and everyone’s other people say it was a nightmare. So when you look back on it, was it good times for you?
Babs Neilan [27:41]
It was and we so I set up the firm in November, I didn’t really start trying to grow it until March about a week before lockdown. And so that was crazy. The end of March start of April, I was in lockdown thinking, What have I done. This is never, this is never going to work. And but actually, end of April start of me, that’s when you started to see all the entrepreneurial spirit come out, you know, everybody was at home and they were bored. So all your entrepreneurs out there were starting to try and grow their companies or set up new ones. A lot of our clients are in the tech space. So software developers, app developers, that kind of thing. And so it seemed as if as the grew, we grew. And so for us, the pandemic was fantastic. And the other the other side of it was everyone was at home. So with our reach approach being LinkedIn, we were able to contact, you know, top senior level people at our ideal clients who normally would have been in the office and wouldn’t have been checking LinkedIn. But they were actually responding coming on calls and it made everything a bit more accessible for us.
David Ralph [28:49]
And so you all work at home. Now I can’t. I used to wear a suit and a tie. The only time I wear a suit and a tie, somebody’s died and I’ve got to go to a funeral. It never occurs. I’m always in a pair of shorts and a T shirt. Now as as lawyers, you’ve got to be professional I would have thought or do you not? Can you walk out onto a zoom call when you’re in your pyjamas and nobody cares?
Babs Neilan [29:11]
No, definitely not. And I just certainly don’t wear suits anymore. I don’t wear anything formal, but I always dress nicely and except on certain days when I’m not taking any calls and then I am there in my pyjamas but generally speaking, no, we dress nicely. But then that’s only for the lawyers that are client facing other people in the team don’t need to at all. I think as long as you’re presenting yourself and in a in a polite and respectful way. There’s no point in sitting at home in a suit. That’s not the vision that we’re trying to create. It’s not what we’re promoting. As you said Our website is really friendly and approachable. So we have to dress nice and professionally and be welcoming to people. But the last thing I’d want is for us to look like we’re sitting there in suits and ties.
David Ralph [29:56]
How do you get that vibe? That’s actually come just from the fan wonder, did you go I want this to be friendly and sort of everybody else. If you hire someone, oh, no, no, this isn’t it should be professional, we should be cutting up. We should really sort of like, go after people. Is it all from you? Or is it that everyone’s bought into it?
Babs Neilan [30:16]
And I see it started for me. I know everyone has bought into it. I’ve also only hired people that I think would gel really well with the team is one of the issues we’re having right now is that it’s not that I’m particularly pernickety about skill set, or what someone can can bring to the organisation, but it’s more how they will fit in with the culture in the community that we have. And it was always really important to me that it sounds ridiculous when you say it like this, but I just wanted us to be nice to our clients and nice to each other. And that sounds crazy, because it shouldn’t be that difficult, but it seems to be. And I always thought that that was something that not only would I promote, but I’d be damn sure that everyone else in the business was going to promote it as well. So everyone that I’ve hired has already been like that, and I think, pick that up more and more just from me and my leadership as well.
David Ralph [31:07]
I don’t think that’s mad at all. You know, I used to be in insurance and banking. And my whole remit was, if I’m at work, I want to have as good a time as possible. Yeah. And so I used to creep around and flick people’s ears and just do sort of like fun things. But I got known for that. And it was just accepted. But that other people would come in, and they would just have a frown on their face all the time. And I remember sitting just before I quit sitting in a business meeting, thinking he can’t possibly care that much. I know your face says you care, but you can’t possibly care that much. And that was when I decided no, it’s got to be about enjoying yourself and enjoying yourself. Spreads is a positive virus. But I think people jump on board with
Babs Neilan [31:55]
100% I’ll tell you a story and one of the big law firms that I worked with,
David Ralph [31:59]
and be 20 minutes long on these podcasts to feel
Babs Neilan [32:03]
it’s not gonna be 20 minutes long, unfortunately, but and I was I was working in early season career in one of the bigger law firms and and went and got my appraisal with a partner and it was all like, you know, does well at this could work on this, etc, etc. It was all generally very, very positive. And then he said at the end, there’s just one thing I’d like to speak to you about. And I said, Yeah, okay, you know, you’re 25 years old and thinking, Oh, God, what’s he going to say? And he said, it’s just about your demeanour in the workplace. And I was thinking, Oh, my God, what have I done? And it’s like, this is gonna be really embarrassing. And he said, You’re just a bit too happy. And I said, What? What do you mean to happy? And he said, lawyers aren’t happy. He said, we’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to keep our headstone, we’ve got to be very, very serious. And I said, I understand that if we’re on a client call, or you know, we’re running with a transaction or anything like that. But if we’re sat next to our colleagues, I don’t I don’t understand that. Surely, it’s nice if we’re all happy. And he said, No, it’s not really the environment that we’re going for here. And at that point, I thought, This isn’t for me isn’t.
David Ralph [33:12]
That is the kind of middle management that we should, you know, get working in as does awesome. Yeah. Just browsing it through. I think that’s a terrible bit of advice. Because, you know, you spend a third of your life asleep. Yeah, probably the other third at work. So you’ve only got a third for them. And in that third, you’re probably rushing around supermarkets and doing your chores and stuff. So you got to find happiness somehow.
Babs Neilan [33:40]
Absolutely. And it was thing I come in in the morning and be like, happy Friday, everyone. What you got to this weekend didn’t like that at all? No, there’s definitely, obviously a time and a place for getting your head down and getting on with things like it’s really really important. We need to get the job done. But I just don’t think that we should all be so miserable doing it.
David Ralph [33:59]
I’m gonna if you ever go into politics, I’m gonna vote you into power. You’d be Scottish Parliament when you?
Babs Neilan [34:07]
I would although I’m living in Ireland at the moment, but I don’t think we’d accept me over there. I don’t think we’d accept me. I think that you have to be Irish, don’t you?
David Ralph [34:14]
Yeah. And your Prime Minister. She’s a bit miserable when she sat me. Yeah, I look at her and sometimes I think once again, I look at her and I look at loads of them and think you can’t be VAT serious about
Babs Neilan [34:27]
it. They’re so serious and they’re so grumpy and they never smile and I think God Life’s too short.
David Ralph [34:31]
Yeah, let’s get Boris back into power and everything. Everything will be all right. Well, let’s let’s move you again into an environment we haven’t touched on and hopefully it’s not too personal. But your relationship. I have you got children.
Babs Neilan [34:49]
I don’t have children. No, not yet. Okay.
David Ralph [34:53]
As you get children or maybe you don’t want children or your family expands, how will the sort of the Long hours and needed to push on the business build into that, because that’s been another element, which a lot of people don’t take into consideration.
Babs Neilan [35:08]
Yeah, I mean, we don’t have children yet. But the plan is to have children. So it is something that’s kind of at the forefront of my mind. And it’s something that my business partner and I speak about all the time, she actually has three children. And how she does the hours that we have to do is beyond me, I think she’s a super, super human hero. I don’t understand it. But yeah,
David Ralph [35:29]
let’s name her. So that will ever come to the website. That’s Legal Director,
Babs Neilan [35:33]
Legal Director. Yeah. She’s doing all of this with the kids. She’s an absolute hero. But that’s something that we’ve we’ve said, you know, when the time comes, it’s something we’ll need to factor in. It’s another reason we’re hiring. And what we find, you know, linnworks for days, for instance, if Len is off on a Friday, and I happen to be on holiday, then our other lawyer, Laura is just on her own, that’s not ideal. And it’s something that we need to guard against anyway. But yeah, of course, if I go off on maternity leave, or need to take time away with kids, etc, it’s something that we need to factor in, is a reason why we’re scaling as we are. And I never really want to scale too quickly. It terrifies me. And but we do need to scale a bit in order to have the backup. And in terms of the work and errors. I mean, yeah, in an ideal world, that’s never going to happen when you when you’ve got kids, but I think it’s something that being a business owner, we just need to work around. And I’m very lucky that my husband is also a business owner, because I feel like both of us, although we work long hours. And although we are very busy, we do still have the flexibility of being able to decide when we’re working. And we can work that around each other. So I guess I don’t know how it will be. But I’m trying to plan for it as much as I can,
David Ralph [36:47]
you will make it happen as it goes along. When you you’re just juggle plates in different ways. But um, I’ve got five kids, and I’ve got three grandchildren. And it’s always busy time in my house. And that’s one of the things that changed my life in a personal career. My first three kids grew up without me really, I was up in the City of London, I was doing jobs, I was getting home after they went to bed and stuff. And it was just, I didn’t even query it. It was just okay. That’s what dad has to do. I have to if you want to go to Florida every year, that’s what I need to do. Totally wrong. And so when the last two came along, I got another job. And I said, Well, I’m out at four. And I won’t you won’t keep that up. I’ll say Do you watch me? And for the first maybe three months? I would get a half day. Is it today? Oh, yeah, it is as I walked out, and then after a while people would say to me, oh, yeah, I can’t put that time because you leave it for I’ll do it tomorrow. You know, they they just fitted it into their life. So the founder thing is a great thing to have on your badge, because ultimately you can be the founder. And you don’t have to be the CEO and the solicitor Do you?
Babs Neilan [37:59]
Yeah. 100%. And as I said, I’ve got a business partner who I can really rely on. I mean, I took two weeks off. And in April, it was the first time I’ve taken a break properly since it started the company. And I was absolutely terrified. And it was all fine. It was all completely fine. She ran the ship. And it was it was fantastic.
David Ralph [38:18]
Was it disappointing? No, it was all fine. Or did you? Are we really need you perhaps it’s falling to pieces without you.
Babs Neilan [38:25]
You know what, maybe back in the day, I would have been like that. But no, I was so desperate to have the time off. And I was delighted. And that, you know, she she’d managed fine. And the whole team had managed fine. It was it was a point as well where I thought this business is really actually maturing, it’s really growing into something because before it was it really felt like it was just me now it feels like there’s another another thing that’s just growing, regardless of me kind of I mean, I’m at the forefront, but it could go without me know if it needed to.
David Ralph [38:59]
That is testament to you. The greatest managers are the ones that never never have to be there. And it all works perfectly because they’ve got the right staff in place. They’ve got the right processes in place. So I think that’s, that’s credit to you. Well, let’s hear from the late Steve Jobs. He said these words back in 2005 created Join Up Dots in a roundabout way. Let’s hear him again.
Unknown Speaker [39:21]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [39:55]
So do you feel you’re on the well worn path or do you think It’s just perfect for you, do you do you think it’s something that’s been tried by so many people before you, or you’re carving your own way through?
Babs Neilan [40:09]
Definitely carbon only through I think the way that I’m, I’ve been doing things I still am. But since the beginning is is very different it you know, we get lots of comments from people about how unusual the business is and how differently we work and, and not even just, you know, the fact that we’re all remote, and we’ll always be all remote, which seemed a lot more strange a couple of years ago, people are kind of more accepting of it now. And but it’s not even just that it’s the fact that is the way we approach clients, you know, we have clients, they just get us on WhatsApp, and they ask a quick question, or you can just pick up the phone and give us a call, they’re not terrified that we’re going to charge them through the nose for it. They know that we’re essentially an extension of their own team. And that’s why we’ve we’ve tried to do things definitely we want our clients to think, or we’ll just send that over to legal as if they were in a big organisation, not will phone Jamison law, and we’ll see what lawyer we get. And we want everybody to feel more more proactive in their legal risk management. So asking questions, rather than doing something and having to come to us later spend a lot more money to fix what they did wrong in the first place. So that’s the way we’re trying to do things. And as I said before, obviously transparency with fees, fixed pricing, guaranteed turnaround times, none of these are in our normal in the traditional law firm setting. So definitely trying to do things a little bit differently,
David Ralph [41:33]
one of your reviews, and it made me smile, because it’s so true. It’s by a guy called Paul Wilson from Q bank. And he said, I don’t often write reviews, even after receiving excellent service. But we’ve Jameson law had to make the exception. That is one of the problems with building a business, isn’t it that when you do something unique, and you set the bar so high, it’s quite easy to just miss it by an inch. And people go, Oh, but not as good as it used to be?
Babs Neilan [42:03]
Yeah, we do get that. I mean, as we’re getting busier and busier, we’re finding that you know, this guaranteed C business day turnaround, sometimes we have to say to clients, do you mind four days? And actually, that’s still faster than the majority of firms. But and some of them are very understanding of Hey, okay, don’t worry, actually take a week, don’t worry, it’s fine. Others don’t like it very much. And even things like you know, if you’ve promised them work on a on a Tuesday, some of them expected by 10am on the Tuesday and they get a bit miffed if they get it at 4pm. And things like that, yes, I feel like what that can result in photos sometimes. And I’m the most guilty of this is being a bit of a people pleaser an over delivering and that can kind of contribute to the long working areas and a bit of stress as well. So that is something definitely that that we need to kind of be be aware of
David Ralph [42:53]
what we used to do in the old days, I’m talking really old days, early 90s, late 80s, under promise over deliver. And so if we knew we could get it out in three days, we’d always say, oh, it’s gonna take five days. And then they got it in three days. They were delighted, you know, we always added on extra time, which isn’t what you’re doing. You’re you’re delivering and you’re raising the bar high, and you’re trying your best to keep it that way. So I think credit Yeah, I think, you know, keep the bar high, because vac starts to shine a light.
Babs Neilan [43:24]
Thank you. I mean, we did we used to, you know, kind of under promise and over deliver. So we used to say three business day turnaround, and it get into, but the problem that we’re having is that we are just so busy now, which is great. And but yeah, I mean, I’ve had team members say to me to think we should extend out or whatever. No. And I know that that’s probably not the right answer from a kind of health perspective and going for me going to bed at night, but I’m not willing to change the standards that we’ve we’ve become known for.
David Ralph [43:56]
So when you are in bed, and this is a business question, okay. Do you just go dunk on the pillow and go to sleep? Or do you does it work around your head all the time?
Babs Neilan [44:05]
No, I’m I’m passed out completely passing.
David Ralph [44:08]
So you just get in there and go bump bedtime? That’s
Babs Neilan [44:11]
it. He’s gone. Yeah, I think Yeah. And I know that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do that. And they would worry about things I genuinely don’t think about work when I’m not in it. Now. I’m very rarely not in it. But when I’m not in it, I it doesn’t even cross my mind.
David Ralph [44:25]
Right stuff. So before we send you on the Sermon on the mic, obviously, you’ve done remarkably well. I love what you’ve done. I would love to look at it in three years time and only see ladies bear and not have any men at all. I think that’s the way forward on that one. But what are you aiming for on a personal and business sort of mission?
Babs Neilan [44:47]
Well, this is something we’re trying to work through at the minute on a business side and and it’s quite difficult because as I said to you, I’ve never had a plan. I’ve never had a strategy or goals that I’m trying to reach but I think I would like to at the moment we have Have one person leaving. So we’ve got five staff members at the moment, I think it would be a really nice place to get us to about 10. I think 10 staff members over the next few years would allow us all a better work life balance, and a bit more flexibility. It would allow us to keep with the standards that we’ve been keeping to, and but all kind of starting to reap the rewards a little in terms of being able to finish at an earlier time and being paid a little bit more so that that’s the goal there. And personally, I’d love to be able to do that and take more time for myself and try and have a family in the next few years as well.
David Ralph [45:39]
Yeah, I think you will make everything happen because you’re doing it with heart. And heart is the right way of moving forward. I totally believe in and even if it feels wrong, if it feels right. It’s the way of doing it.
Babs Neilan [45:54]
Yeah. Thank you appreciate that.
David Ralph [45:57]
Well, this is the bit that we’ve been leading up to. And this is the bit we called a sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to speak to the young Babs. And if you could go back in time and grab hold of her. Which age Babs, would you speak to him? What advice would you give her? Well, we’re gonna find out because we’re going to play the theme. And when it fades, it’s your time to talk. This is a sermon on
Babs Neilan [46:27]
the show. So this would be to 1314 year old Babs. And I would say, don’t be so serious. And don’t worry so much. Everything will work out fine. But do keep working as hard as you are. Because you’re going to be great. And this is going to be amazing. So when
David Ralph [46:56]
I was sure that was short and sweet. As a lawyer, how much would you charge for that bit of advice? 300 quid
Babs Neilan [47:02]
Oh, no. 500 For sure.
David Ralph [47:05]
Yeah, that’s the way to do it. So for the people that’s listening. What’s the number one best way that they can connect with you?
Babs Neilan [47:12]
Either on our website, which is Jamison law dot legal, or you can contact us at info at Jamison law dot legal.
David Ralph [47:19]
Great. We have all the links on the show notes. Babs, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots, and connecting our paths is always the best way to build our futures. Babs, thank you so much.
Babs Neilan [47:38]
Thank you so much for having me, David. It’s been amazing. I really appreciate it.
David Ralph [47:44]
Yeah, wasn’t she lovely? You know, lawyers, I have a bad image of lawyers. But that’s the kind of lawyer that I want that she wants to be happy. She wants to provide great service. She wants to just be kind to people and come into their clients, I think our business is going to go on to bigger and bigger things. And if any of you are out there, and you’re building your own online business, or you’re starting your startup, then connect with him at Jamison law because I’m sure that they will be your, your chosen lawyers for for a long, long time. So thank you, for everybody who’s been out there listening to Join Up Dots. Thank you for everyone who’s connecting with us dropping us emails, hopefully you’ve all got responses, and we’ve helped you in every way but we can. But as I always say the bottom line is, please come back. Listen to more episodes, share it with your friends, because we’re here to help you get the dream and I know it’s out there for you. Until next time, I’ll see you again. Look after yourselves. Cheers. See ya. Bye bye.
That’s the end of Join Up Dots. You’ve heard the conversation. Now it’s time for you to start taking massive action. Create up create your life. Izzy only you live. We’ll be back again real soon. Join Up Dots during the gods or the gods, the gods. Jolene, Jolene