Marketing Training and Retention

Associates, your firm’s diamonds in the rough

In its rough form, a diamond is a lusterless, translucent crystal that resembles a chip of broken glass. For it to be transformed into a jewel, it must be cut into a particular gem shape and then polished, facet by facet. (Edward Jay Epstein)

A colleague recently told me how at her firm, practice group marketing was the domain of the partners, with the associates kept, for the most part, out of the loop.  Yet at the same time, the firm runs a highly developed training program for associates with a marketing and business component, so what gives?

This post applies to all firms with associates.  If you’ve got them use them.  Young lawyers can be creative, enthusiastic, hard working, and dedicated contributors to your firm’s marketing efforts.  Introduce them to your clients from the start.  Promote their involvement in client events.  Provide them with some training and give them a chance to put it into action.  Get them involved in organizing seminars and events.  Set them up with speaking opportunities.  Encourage them to develop personal marketing plans.  Compensate them for their marketing efforts.

I have seen how associates, when given these opportunities from their first year of call, develop into valuable members of client teams, bring in referrals, generate new business, and are prepared to become positive additions to the firm’s partnership when the time comes.

Easier said then done of course!  There are many hurdles along the way in the form of compensation complaints, disinterested and uninspired lawyers who just want to grind hours, and the usual pressure of the billable hour.  But at every firm you will find some associates who GET IT.  They might like working with the clients, be interested in business development, have great networking skills, or enjoy writing articles. 

The key is to take the time, one-on-one, with each individual associate to discover their interests and abilities and match these to an appropriate part of your firm’s marketing program.  The result will be a committed team of associate marketers, who contribute in more ways then one to the success of the firm.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.