Transforming Young Attorneys Into Marketing Rock Stars
Do you ever wonder how law firms turning 50, 75 and even 100 years old make it to these significant milestones? To have longevity, they likely do many things well. These law firms, however, are exceptional at one critical aspect of their business that seems to escape many others. They ensure growth and succession by nurturing their young professionals from before day one to be marketing and business development rock stars. Yes, it begins before an employment offer is ever made.
• Establish clear expectations from the beginning.According to Joel Rosen, managing partner of High Swartz, a Norristown, Pa.-based law firm turning 100 years old in 2014, "During the interview process, we discuss the importance of marketing and business development and make it clear that making partner is contingent upon his or her ability to build a book of business." This may seem a bit daunting to new lawyers entering the workforce, which is why it's important to have a formal process in place to build skills and confidence.
There are always individuals who are natural at doing certain things, including rainmaking. But for many attorneys, marketing and business development activities don't feel comfortable. The good news is that these are skills that can be learned and practiced. Like most things in life, the earlier the training begins, the easier it will be to master.
• Commit to a formal mentoring program.Most law firms want their young professionals to be active when it comes to marketing and business development, and some mandate it. Given this desire and expectation, it's surprising how many law firms do not have formal mentoring programs in place.
Philadelphia-based intellectual property boutique law firm Volpe and Koenig is in the process of developing a formal mentoring program that will roll out in November. Wesley McMichael, an associate at the firm, said, "This is a big priority for Volpe and Koenig. Our formal mentoring program is for every professional in the firm, but will be much more intensive for attorneys in the first three years of their careers. All young professionals will meet regularly with their mentors, and this relationship will continue all the way through their careers until they become shareholders. Mentors will help coach associates through developing marketing and business skills and setting and measuring goals."
While there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to marketing and business development mentoring programs, here's some insight as to what your law firm might want to include at each level of experience.
The Early Years (1-2)
• Assess marketing/business development skills.During the first six months of employment, have your young lawyers complete a brief e-survey so you have an understanding of their aptitude and comfort level with: