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The tight market for talented associates has prompted a handful of tech-savvy firms to produce Web videos and turn their lawyers into firm salesmen. Ropes & Gray’s Web videos that feature only associates were conceived as a marketing project, but are now perceived as a valuable recruiting tool for the Boston-based firm, says Jim Durham, the chief marketing officer. The firm started posting the videos on its site this month. “It represents the reality that recruiting and marketing are actually working much more closely together at all major firms because the competition among top firms for great law students is increasingly intense,” Durham says. The video clips, which come from unscripted interviews with a wide range of associates, feature informal discussions about what it’s like to work at the firm. In one of the clips, Boston associate Kristen McLean talks about what happens when associates are asked to step outside their comfort zone to tackle unfamiliar work. “[It's] with the belief and the knowledge that you’re going to be able to handle whatever assignment they’re giving you and with a huge support system to support you,” McLean says. Debevoise & Plimpton of New York posted partner videos in August 2006, after rolling out audio files of associate interviews at the end of 2005, says Yolanda Cartusciello, the director of marketing. The videos, which are housed in the “Working Here” section of the firm’s Web site, were viewed 7,090 times during the last four months of 2006. Law firms have done a good job of providing factual information to candidates about practices, deals and cases, but video-streaming is more about showing than telling, Cartusciello says. “If you have people trying to make a decision between two or three seemingly similar firms, it’s important to put something out there that distinguishes your firm,” Cartusciello says. During her own job interview process, Cartusciello realized that the firm’s Web site did not fully portray the warmth and intelligence of the firm’s lawyers. “You want to infuse the site with the voice of the firm,” she says. “Video and audio imaging offers the opportunity to speak directly to the audience and provide immediate impact.” Despite video’s storytelling advantages, few firms have invested in full-motion video. Most opt instead for the lower-cost option of using still photographs that are panned as the clip progresses and narrated by voiceovers, much like the technique used in historical documentaries, says consultant Peter Marx, president of Wellesley, Mass.-based Legal Insight Media Inc., which specializes in media consulting for law firms. Firms are reluctant to disclose their spending on videos, but Marx says his company’s videos start at around $20,000. Videos can help law students narrow down their choices and decide which firms they want to visit, says Marx. Legal Insight has produced videos for Latham & Watkins and has just started a project with the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. “The majority of firms have not dipped their toe in the water yet,” Marx says. “Those that have are taking advantage of the capabilities of impact, personalization and connection. I would expect it to be big in 2007.” �HUGE’ FOR RECRUITMENT The video will be a “huge recruiting tool” for the Navy JAG, says Lt. Cmdr. Colleen Shook, Navy JAG Corps detailer for accessions and recruitment. Shook says JAG is reviewing its recruiting Web content to see if it meets the needs of law students, many of whom like to do their own research online. “The law student today is much more technologically savvy,” Shook says. “We want to have as much information available to them as I can in the technological medium they’re using the most.” Like Ropes & Gray, Denver-based Holland & Hart is also turning a marketing project into a recruiting device. The firm has three videos featuring clients that it shows on flights run by Denver-based Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc., says Mark Beese, its director of marketing. Once Holland & Hart finishes its fourth video, it plans to rework them into videos narrated by the firm’s managing partner that will be used for recruiting DVDs and Web videos. The video capability of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Vista operating system, which is slated for release later this month, and the online video phenomenon spawned by San Mateo, Calif.-based YouTube Inc. illustrate the consumer appetite for video, Beese says. “Everything is going to video very rapidly,” Beese says. “Law firms and law firm marketing have to embrace video like never before.”
Sheri Qualters is a staff reporter for the National Law Journal , the ALM publication in which this article first appeared.

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