“Communication is key – and has been the cornerstone of our growth.”–CEO Q&A: Fin O’Driscoll, Principal, Finghín O’Driscoll Solicitors

Business | Wed 18 Jul | Author – Business & Finance
Fin O’ Driscoll, Principal, Finghín O Driscoll Solicitors. Photo: Miki Barlok.

In our next CEO Q&A, Fin O’Driscoll of Finghín O’Driscoll Solicitors speaks about the importance of celebrating successes in a high pressure environment.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

Primarily, I am focused on my team’s development and our client needs. Since setting up the practice nine years ago, my ambition has been to create our own organisational culture, service ethos and to invest in our people and their expertise.  

Communication is key and building client relationships, based on respect and trust, has been the cornerstone of our growth. We have many goals–among them is consolidating our ranking as specialists in Civil Ligation, Personal Injury and Private Practice by delivering exemplary service.  

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Invariably, the biggest challenges I face align very closely with those faced by any industry.  The absolute need for our practice to stay ‘current’, developing our own research and in-house legal hub and rising to the demands of client engagement needs with technology and innovation.  Our purpose is to be of service to our clients and to safeguard their interests, typically through fairly tough times in their lives.  To do that, we need to be on top of our game.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

I like to think that it goes back to the core ethos of the business, where individuals are valued and respected, you quickly find that it’s a two-way street.  Regular, two-way communication and an open-door policy is extremely important, so we conduct weekly internal briefings on caseloads and status updates.  In a hectic and, at times, high-pressure environment, this is crucial.  We have also made it a rule to ‘celebrate success’–when our team has applied their expertise and commitment to a lengthy process, its important to chalk down the ‘wins’ as they come.  

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

The growth of on-line engagement and new digital and social media outreach channels can be considered a challenge.  On the one hand we must embrace these developments as new means of communicating with our client base and in the words of Peter Drucker, we must “innovate or die”. But on the other hand, we must continue to fight for and preserve the system of jurisprudence and the fundamental entitlements and rights of individuals to privacy and justice that can so easily be undermined by social media.  

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

Issues and challenges around upcoming GDPR regulations governing usage and storage of data; ePrivacy; cyber security will see a shift towards more mainstream data expertise in the future and we’re ready for the opportunities that will present.       

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

We need dramatic improvements on the process time from filing to court hearing.  Cases routinely stretch to two years, which is a lengthy period to wait for resolution and the congestion across the courts system puts pressure on all points of the process. 

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

Thankfully, all of our needs are covered.  We are lucky to operate in Dublin, Galway and Cork, all University cities with access to a talented pool of apprentices to fulfil our annual recruitment needs and we have a strong senior team to mentor juniors from the outset.

Q. How did your strategy evolve in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

We dug in, like many others. Our Property and Conveyancing services were dialled down and we placed full focus on core services to our commercial and private clients.

We were fortunate to be right-sized for the duration, both in terms of overheads and client profile. I am most proud of those clients that we worked with as they navigated through the most challenging of times both professionally and personally. I don’t think you ever come out of such an experience without some lasting effects.   

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

The indirect implications on us will be through the trading impact experienced by our clients.  It’s impossible to quantify right now in the absence of real insight into what any ‘special arrangement’ may look like. In our profession, the potential exists for us to play a role in the process of understanding and identifying a way for our clients to operate most efficiently in a ‘post-Brexit’ environment.   

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Hands down, success for me is delivering the best legal solution and result for our clients. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be effective. What drives me is my ambition for the future of my business and for my team; it’s seeing with my wife, how our family are growing up into good people and every now and again, getting a chance to drive my Mercedes 280SL Pagoda, because life is good!

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Two simple things, for life and for business: Surround yourself with good people, and when you’re going through hell, keep going! You need a lot of grit.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Without doubt, it was the landmark moment of lodging our largest portfolio of individual case actions in the history of our Practice, against Banks involved in the Tracker Mortgage scandal.  Our specialist expertise developed during the recession, made us a key advocate for those affected. From the outset our team had an innate understanding of the scale and devastation delivered on people and families by the Banks. Whilst I know that our profession can be viewed with a cynical eye, I can honestly say that if ever motivation was needed, or a reason to fight for your client’s interests, then these cases will generate all of the passion and determination needed to champion their cause.    

Q. What’s next for your company?

A new phase with our newly qualified team members progressing up the ranks within the business in 2018 and scope for new recruitment as we develop our in-house expertise.  We also have a body of case work at District, Circuit and High Court stages as well as Tracker Mortgages, which commenced in 2017 and continues to grow so, its business as usual for us. 

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

Apart from our legal services strategy, we have also invested in our technology platforms to extend our brand into new client sectors and demonstrate our expertise with ‘real-time’ responsiveness to issues that require expert legal opinion.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

Of course, bigger and better! But honestly I’d be delighted to preserve the excellent dynamic within our team, to continue our steady strategic investment and growth, and to ensure that our clients get a service that meets or beats their expectation.  

Hands down, success for me is delivering the best legal solution and result for our clients.