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.