By Meggan Maromonte and Andrew Stief
As business development and marketing professionals, we often find ourselves spending the bulk of our time working with partners and shareholders at our firms. They have the high-level client relationships, the four-page biographies and the list of cases and representative matters that could wallpaper a room. But how did they get there?
What follows is designed to provide legal marketers with a toolkit of strategies and tactics to support attorneys at all levels in the firm, from associates to counsel to partners. Each level of attorney requires a unique approach in order to facilitate the most effective practice growth and client development. These suggestions will allow marketers to provide strategic guidance and drive revenue growth in the most effective possible way for each respective level of attorney.
Junior to Mid-Level Associates
Revenue generation comes in all shapes and sizes. Firms are increasing business development training efforts for associates, but much more can still be done. Associates at all levels understand that they need to “do business development,” but have no idea what that means. When working with the junior to mid-level associate ranks at your firms, we suggest the following:
1. Building Relationships and Networking Effectively
All attorneys should be networking, but it takes on a different meaning for junior to mid-level associates, as their contacts are not (typically) decision makers. The goal here is to start to develop a professional network that includes a referral network. A great place to start is the associate’s law school alumni network. Encourage associates to attend local events that focus on a particular industry. Often we hear, “none of my contacts are lawyers.” Nevertheless, development of any network is valuable if managed correctly. Coach associates to use tools such as LinkedIn (always “Link” to contacts met at an event) and Outlook (categorize v-cards and add notes to remember where they met, in addition to any key points they should remember).
2. Internal Brand Development and Management
It is also important for associates to get exposure within the firm and we, as marketers, can help. When working with junior to mid-level associates, encourage them to become involved in a client or industry team, which will give them valuable exposure with partners outside of their working group or practice section. Associates should also monitor law and industry changes that are impacting their practice sections and work with leadership to provide an internal “brown bag” lunch to present to the group on these issues. Internal speaking opportunities help build experience and provide a comfort level that is ideally suited for junior to mid-level associates.
3. Credential Building
We know it’s a hard sell to have junior to mid-level associates speaking at that hottest industry event, but there are other outlets for the associates to build their credentials. Encourage associates to take interest in a specific blog, monitor legal and business trends and propose a topic for a blog post. If a topic is worthy of a more in-depth analysis, see if the associate is interested in drafting a client alert or white paper that could later be repurposed to a “brown bag” presentation (see above), media relations opportunity or webinar.
As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Branding is a long-term investment, but a worthwhile endeavor for associates who wish to ascend the law firm ladder. By helping your associates implement the tactics and strategies above, you will put them on a path to great success and help drive revenue at all levels of the firm.
Meggan Maromonte is director of business development operations and intellectual property at Pillsbury. She frequently presents internally to associates, counsel and partners on business development strategies and opportunities.
Andrew Stief is a business development manager at Morrison & Foerster and works with attorneys in the emerging company and venture capital, corporate and government contracts practices to drive growth and brand exposure.