Check out my latest post on Lawyerist: by using the marketing checklist I composed, associates and young lawyers can transform their legal careers from supporting associate to rainmaking partner.
The list is tailored to how many years you've been in practice, whether it's your first or eighth year in practice. You'll find more than 60 tips plus a client service checklist.
My advice to first-year lawyers is to start building your network. Your long-term goal is to avoid being a 40-year old lawyer with no clients. Here are some specific pointers:
- Volunteer for assignments and ask the firm’s “rainmakers” for assignments. Your eagerness will build a reputation among the partners as a dedicated lawyer. Become known as the “go-to” associate of the first-year associates. Make sure that your work is delivered on time, accurate and error-free.
- Start a habit of visiting the people you work with at clients. It doesn’t matter that they’re junior people. In five years they will become executives or company owners, and now is your chance to start a relationship with them. For example, drop off work product in person.
- Take your contacts at clients out for breakfast or lunch. Start the habit of scheduling at least one face-to-face meeting a week. If the firm will reimburse you, go someplace really nice to create a memorable meeting. Ask questions and get to know the other person. Get the person’s business card.
- Whenever you get a business card, write three things on the back: the date, where you are and what you talked about.
- When you return to the office, immediately create a contact record for the person in your e-mail or firm CRM system. Record key points about the conversation and the business card information. Remember, you can search a computer record, but you can’t search a wad of cards in a rubber band.
- Over time, collect more information about the other person – key events in their lives like births, deaths, graduations and promotions; get the names of their spouses/significant others, children; find out their hobbies and what they like to do for fun. Once you have the names of all their pets, you’ve gone deep enough.
- Create a mailing list and keep it updated. Include your law school classmates (who will become referral sources, judges and in-house lawyers), your fraternity/sorority contacts, college friends, etc. In the future, these are people to whom you’ll send your e-newsletter. Ask your firm’s marketing professional for help.
- Join a bar association and learn the law. Make friends with people in your generation. Get their business cards.
- Scrub your Facebook page so there’s nothing you don’t want a client or the managing partner to find. Use the privacy settings to control what’s visible.
- Go to LinkedIn and create a complete profile with a good picture. One million lawyers have profiles on LinkedIn and it’s the de facto online directory for professionals. The idea is to make yourself easy to find. Invite contacts on other online social networks to connect with you on LinkedIn.
- Send out holiday cards to your mailing list. Hand-write the signature; do not delegate the signature writing. When you get a holiday card, make a record of the sender’s job or address changes.
- Sign up to have the firm’s annual report or other firm wide messages sent to your mailing list.
- Participate in firm functions where clients are present. Encourage senior attorneys to introduce you to clients you don’t know, or go ahead and introduce yourself and thank them for being your firm’s guest. Ask them questions about their work. Get their business card.
- Look like a lawyer, not like someone who works in the mail room. Take your dress cues from the senior partners and rainmakers. Your office should also look organized and tidy. Do not use the floor for filing space.
© 2012 Larry Bodine
About The Author
Larry Bodine is a Business Development Advisor based in Glen Ellyn, IL. He has helped law firms generate millions in new revenue by devising strategies, conducting business development retreats and individually coaching attorneys. He can be reached at 630.942.0977.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
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