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Being a Disruptor in Attorney Professional Development

Posted by Stephanie Hanna on Jul 2, 2019 2:59:56 PM

2018 LMA GRP 3_018

By Stephanie R. Hanna, Esq., Founder + Owner, The Other 85

According to a report from the NALP Foundation, within five years, 81% of entry-level associates leave their law firms. Associates’ top complaints are often related to receiving inadequate tools and training regarding business and professional development.

We are all becoming more familiar with statistics like this. Legal marketers not only play an important role in supporting and developing attorneys in their first 10 years of practice, but also in disrupting the norm in the professional development of attorneys.

In my work, I find the feedback is the same whether an attorney is at an AmLaw100 firm or a five-attorney firm: “I know I’m supposed to network and ‘do business development,’ but I really don’t know how.” Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of opportunities for them to learn. For one reason or another, however, the way it’s currently being done isn’t sticking.

Here are a few things to consider as you think about how to disrupt the norm when it comes to supporting associates early on:

  • Are you easily accessible to your attorneys and do they know it? This might seem like a no-brainer, but associates need to know how to reach their legal marketing team from day one. Do you have weekly office hours? Do you schedule monthly check-ins with attorneys? There are many ways your attorneys can access you, but they may not be aware of the best way to reach their marketing professional for help. Offer standing check-ins, or something similar, and make sure your attorneys know this resource is available.
  • Do you look for ways to streamline business development for your attorneys? Some corners can’t be cut, but there are many tools to help make things easier. A service like Postable automatically sends notes and greeting cards — would a quick lunch and learn demo of this tool, or others like it, help attorneys be more consistent in their relationship building?
  • Are you positioned as a go-to resource in the organization? Legal marketing professionals can be an associate’s best friend. You know you can make their lives easier – but do they? Are you hosting quarterly lunches sharing knowledge about a specific business development technique or offering to role-play common scenarios with associates? Even if only a few people show up, those individuals are likely going to be your rockstars and the people you want to invest in long-term.

Don’t be afraid to do things that haven’t been done before, or things you think are too simple for attorneys to learn from. They likely need you and your expertise more than you think.

Stephanie Hanna was a presenter at the LMA Midwest Regional Conference, for a session titled "Building Rainmakers: How to Help Set Up the Next Generation for Success." For more great in-person educational opportunities near you, check out the LMA Regional Conferences schedule.

Stephanie PhotoStephanie Hanna is the owner and founder of The Other 85. She has been coaching law students and attorneys for the past decade – helping them navigate the profession, build their reputation, and develop their careers. Having been a prosecutor, judicial staff attorney, solo practitioner, magistrate, and law firm associate, Stephanie understands the dynamics at play in each environment. She has been successful in different settings and has been elected by her peers to serve the profession and the community at high levels.


Topics: leadership, LMA Midwest Regional Conference, professional development, LMA regions, young professionals, associates

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