How younger lawyers can help your firm’s marketing
June 23, 2010
A just-released survey on personnel trends by one of the legal industry’s largest consulting firms indicates that a lasting result of the Great Recession is going to be that younger lawyers will be expected to help firms develop business earlier in their careers than in the past.
Abraham Reich, co-chair of 475-lawyer national firm Fox Rothschild, summed it up in telling www.law.com: “When I first started out as a lawyer, the mantra was, ‘Don’t worry about generating business, we have more than you can handle so just service our existing clients. But now, young lawyers are being told that (having a role in) generating business should be on their radar screens.”
Reich and the managing partners we work with writing law firm marketing plans for corporate, business and defense firms of all sizes indicate that their firms are keenly interested in retaining associates who can help a firm’s marketing efforts. That’s because associates commonly are more profitable than non-equity partners, the latter tending to bill fewer hours and generate lower profits, according to various surveys.
Here’s a couple of things associates can consider right now to build relationships that may eventually lead to business or which will immediately lend important support to their firm’s overall marketing efforts:
1. Not everyone can be an effective public rainmaker, or wants to be one. Some lawyers are great at meetings, clubs and receptions shaking hands and making conversation. But, not everyone has to shake hands in order to effectively participate in rainmaking. Help your firm’s public rainmakers— those equity partners deciding which associates they see having long term value to their firm— by researching and writing articles, presentations and speeches, generating Web content and more. We discuss this kind of critical “behind the scenes” work in greater detail on our blog at www.themarketinggurus.com in a post headlined “the Value of Non-traditional Marketing Roles.”
2. If you’d rather work toward a more public marketing role ask yourself what file you have worked on that most interested you. In what industry was that client? Discover the key trade organization for that industry. Join it so you can become industry conversant. Survey after survey shows that executives and in-house lawyers prefer to hire outside counsel who know their industry, not just the legal issues. They don’t want to pay to educate you in industry jargon and the business trends with which they are dealing. Don’t know which industry group makes the most sense? Ask your client what trade group they’re a ember of and find most important to their success— that’s probably the one you’d want to look at joining.
As Reich put it, “It’s not going to be back to business as usual in the legal profession” as we work our way out the recession.
Today, management is in agreement that the expectations for younger lawyers has shifted from simply learning to practice and meeting billable hour goals to involvement in client service, client relations and business development.