By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga
There is a secret that every associate attorney needs to know. It is not a secret per se, rather it is something important that associate attorneys must know but no one talks about. As attorneys, we are used to being high academic achievers. We are great at studying and excellent at test taking. When we transition from law student to lawyer, most of us could easily get A+’s for the excellent work that we do on briefs, motions, memos, and more. This may come as a shock to you but being a great worker is not what partners are looking for.
To be fair, partners do want to see that an associate finishes her work on time, delivers high quality work product, and satisfies the benchmarks the firm provides for her, such as billable hours. But there is something that partners want more: a rainmaker.
Law firms are businesses, plain and simple. Though many of us become lawyers because we want to “do the work,” there very few cases in which a lawyer will be merely a lawyer and not be required to be a businessperson as well. A partner has three main roles: bring in new business, manage the firm (or some aspects of the firm), and do legal work. Depending on who you ask, a partner’s role in the legal work may not take as much prevalence as her business duties.
The point is this: even as an associate, you must be focused on the business aspects of the practice of law. Most importantly, you need to focus on bringing in business as an associate because (1) that is what establishes your value to the firm from a partnership perspective and (2) that is what will give you a voice at that partnership table, if the partnership track is what you want. (Also, many attorneys end up as solos in which case all of the business tasks will fall on you.)
Developing your own clientele and cultivating your current clients is crucial to your overall success as an attorney. How can YOU do this?
1. Build a Brand
Your firm name in and of itself of a brand that helps bring clients in the door. However, you have the power to create your brand within that firm even as an associate. The goal is that potential clients call the firm asking for you and that current clients refer their friends to you specifically.
Here are some ways to build your brand:
- Create a Facebook page in your name (First Name Last Name, Esq. i.e. “Alexandra Kennedy Garcia, Esq.”) where you can post about relevant legal updates and case successes.
- Have a professional photo taken. If your firm does not offer it, spring for it yourself.
- Get out in the community. Give presentations. Volunteer at legal clinics.
(for more information about something I came up with that took me two hours and created over $50,000.00 in revenue, check out the Power Hour Playback: Marketing For Immigration Lawyers.)
- Bring your business cards everywhere you go and pass them out liberally.
- Send hand-written thank you letters for every referral that you receive.
2. Cultivate Current Clients
Every attorney knows that referrals are the best way to get new clients, however most attorneys miss the mark on providing a connected and meaningful experience for clients that will ensure future business.
Here are a few tips:
- Make it a point to speak to every client that comes into your office. Even if the client is scheduled to meet with your legal assistant or paralegal, be sure to come in and say hello.
- Return phone calls personally. There are many calls that can be handled for us, but try to return a phone call yourself at least once a month.
- Send greeting cards outside of the holiday season. For example, a “Happy Fourth of July” postcard made on Visaprint is a small investment (between $5-$10 for 50-100 postcards) with a large impact. Sign each card individually. This is a more personal touch than an email.
Check out more can’t-miss ideas here.
3. Learn Everything You Can
As an associate you have the benefit of a firm helping pay for furthering your education and knowledge. Try to learn everything that you can about your areas of practice or desired areas of practice. The more you know, the more cases you can take on. The first few years are filled with trial and error, baptism by fire, and learning through your mistakes. Arm yourself with knowledge to add value to yourself and your brand.
If you are ready to take your business to the next level, don’t forget to sign up for our one-hour, $30 webinar, Amiga Power Hour: Be the CEO of Your Firm.
And you can also check out the Playback from our last Amiga Power Hour: Marketing for Immigration Attorneys.
Power on, associate attorneys!
About your Ally in Life, Business and Law:
Alexandra "Ally" Kennedy is a national award-winning attorney and the founder of AMIGA Lawyers and Alexandra Kennedy Immigration Law.. After becoming a mother, and in a matter of 3 months, Ally transformed her practice from earning in pesos to earning 6-figures and she is passionate about teaching attorneys how they can do the same. Ally empowers lawyers to be the CEOs of their law firms with her weekly blog, webinars, and conferences where she teaches step-by-step how to do the work they love while running a profitable legal business. Ally lives outside of Seattle with her partner and their 5 children.