It’s a given that the owners of small law firms have to market themselves and the firm. What’s not as obvious is that associates should be marketing as well. Associates should want to market because (1) they have resources and contacts of their own that when cultivated will benefit the firm, (2) marketing also enhances them professionally in the community, and (3) all things being equal, if it’s a choice between an associate that does good work and can bring in business and an associate that just does good work, I’d keep the rainmaker every time. Why is the rainmaking associate more valuable to me than an associate that simply does good work? It’s obviously isn’t it? In this competitive job market, it would not be hard to find an attorney to do the work. But it takes time, passion, and cultivation to be a rainmaker and that’s a lot harder to put in a job description.
Law firm owners and partners should also give time to their associates to market because (1) your staff is your best source of information to the outside world about your company, (2) an associate that can bring in clients is more valuable than how many hours that associate can bill, and (3) it gives the associate a vested interest in the well being of the firm.
Let’s take this one step further. Not only should firm owners, partners, and associates help market the firm, so should paralegal and staff.
I’m not done. We need to take this yet another step; law students should also market themselves. I recently gave a talk at the Massachusetts Bar Association and for the Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) Supermarketing conference where I talked about the motivation to succeed—and how most lawyers are simply not motivated. Sure, they’ll attend all these conferences on marketing but how many of the things they learn about do they actually execute? I challenged the audience, more than 100 in attendance and online, to make an appointment with me to pick my brain about marketing. I also told them that very few of them would take me up on my offer. In an ideal world, if I’m offering my time for free, most people should seize that opportunity. There’s nothing to lose.
Four people… Four people called and met with me. That’s it. The numbers were just what I expected but what did impress me was that one of the four people who conatctaed me was a law student. She was so interested and excited about the practice and business of law that it re-energized me as well. She’s marketing herself and her skills and I will remember her—and you can bet that if she needed my help, I will help her.
Gabriel is a divorce lawyer in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter @GabrielCheong