Your first week with a new law firm can be daunting. Whether you are a young lawyer fresh out of law school, a former clerk of the court or a lawyer moving to a bigger firm, you will most likely feel overwhelmed your first week on the job. You will be inundated with new technologies, prescheduled meetings and trainings and you will probably be required to peruse a file or two on your desk. You will meet many people and probably not remember most names.
During this time, you will most likely be introduced to a representative from the firm's marketing department. He or she will sit down with you to discuss some marketing basics, such as a biography for the website, scheduling a new headshot, a press release announcing your arrival and more. In all of this mayhem, including trying to remember the location of your office and closest coffee machine, you will be tempted to allow this meeting to go in one ear and out the other. Don't let it.
Marketing is an invaluable resource for young attorneys looking to develop a book of business. Becoming friendly with marketing can give you the inside track as to new firm initiatives and could provide you with new opportunities and insights to help advance your own marketing plan. Be prepared for your first marketing meeting with the following questions.
1. How do I get involved in marketing?
Ask about the firm's current marketing initiatives and your practice groups' marketing goals. Think about how you can add value to these efforts. State that you would like to be kept informed on new initiatives as they are developed.
2. What kind of marketing tools are at my disposal?
Ask your marketing representative about the marketing tools currently used by the firm. These could include printed materials, email newsletters, blogs, branded materials such as pens and mugs and more. Ask follow-up questions. You should know what tools are at your disposal and the best way to use them. Ask for examples of how other attorneys have used each type of tool to their advantage.
3. What's the budget?
Don't be afraid to ask this question. Law firms preset their budgets for the year and usually have stipends set aside for personal marketing. Know what kind of monetary support you have and how to request support. Ask for examples of how other young attorneys in the firm maximize their own budgets for the year. Don't be afraid to use your marketing allowance. If you don't use it, you run the risk of losing it in the future.
4. Will I have a personal marketing plan?
It is never too early to express interest in a personal marketing plan. While you will be involved in executing practice group and firmwide marketing plans, developing a personal marketing plan will help you define the type of work you like to do and the type of clients you want to attract. Your plan will evolve over time, so be flexible. To get started, ask marketing to set a reminder to have you review your biography in six months. You should be able to better define your experience and tailor it to your current caseload.
5. How do I get involved in my community?
No matter the type of law you practice, community involvement will help you build your networking base and will add community service and leadership experience to your resume. Ask your marketing representative for a list of local community organizations that offer leadership positions. Discuss any personal interests you may have and what type of organizations would best complement your experience. Marketing may know if one of your superiors has the inside track on an organization of interest.
6. How involved should I be on social media?
Social media will probably be on the list of tools marketing will present to you. Ask what level of involvement they seek from attorneys in social media. Ask yourself how involved you are willing to become. If social media interests you, ask about the first steps in getting involved. You should have already cleaned up your social media profiles before you applied for your new position, so you will have a nice clean slate from which to start.
7. Will you help me build my contact list?
One of the most valuable tools a law firm has is its list of contacts. Most firms have an established database where they centrally house clients, prospects and referral sources. Express your interest in building your own list within this database. As you get more involved in marketing efforts, you can make sure your contacts are receiving news about you and your firm.
8. Can I share my ideas?
Marketing is constantly evolving. In your conversations with marketing, make it clear that you are looking to have a dialogue about new ideas. Do not get discouraged when an idea is shot down. Use marketing's feedback from previous experience to develop innovative ideas for selling yourself.
9. Who would make a good marketing mentor?
Marketing instincts do not come naturally to all attorneys. Ask who might make a good mentor for you. The attorney who excels at social media may not be the go-to networking guru. Identify your areas of weakness and any interests you may have so marketing can help you engage someone who is a good fit.
10. Can we schedule a follow-up meeting?
Now that you have met your marketing department, schedule a follow-up meeting to further discuss your marketing initiatives. This doesn't have to be immediate. Give yourself time to settle in and get a feel for the marketing activities in which the firm is already engaged. Don't be afraid to engage marketing before your next meeting, should you have any questions or ideas.
There are many other questions that may come to mind when thinking about marketing. Approach your initial interaction with your marketing department with an open mind. Establish a friendly rapport with your colleagues and encourage them to keep you in the loop. Actively engaging in marketing efforts early on will allow you to build a foundation for your book of business and help you establish yourself as a valuable asset to your firm.
Madlen J. Miller is the business development and marketing manager for Gross McGinley, one of the largest law firms in the Lehigh Valley region. She leads all marketing efforts, including public relations, advertising, events and community relations.