Ed Weseman and the fine folks at the Edge Group are looking for a few good marketers to help their client, LeClair Ryan. LeClair is a 150 attorney firm with offices throughout Virginia. No, they are not hiring a marketing staff. LeClair has hired Edge to find a firm to outsource their marketing functions.
The RFP indicates that LeClair is looking for seven basic functions to be managed by a "vendor" marketing agency, including developing collateral material, proposals, database management, media relations and communications, event planning, strategic planning, and training.
I like LeClair's website, especially the "LeClair Ryan Way" which outlines their straightforward approach to client service. Check it out at www.leclairryan.com under the "About Us" Section. The manifesto includes bullet points such as "We provide practical solutions", "We go for the WOW Reaction", We over-communicate", We make great first and last impressions" and "We are humble." The web site does have several dead links - I guess they do need some marketing help.
LeClair and the Edge Group have their work cut out for them. I know many firms who outsource part of their marketing functions, such as media relations or training. Other functions are much more intense and require a high level of trust, cooperation and intimate knowledge of the firm, such as proposal writing, and strategic planning. My biggest concern is the phrase 'vendor' in the RFP. When I read it, I got the same funky feeling when I read the phrase in RFPs for legal services. When you are a 'vendor', are you really a strategic partner? a trusted adviser? a value-added consultant? Or, are marketing service really a commodity that does not require professional insight, experience, or specialized client service skills needed to work with non-marketers (aka attorneys.)
If you are interested in responding to the RFP, I suggest you contact Ed Weseman for more information.
Watch for a change soon. www.leadershipforlawyers.typepad.com will join the law.com affiliate network of blogs. In exchange for posting law.com advertising on this site, this blog link will be listed on the home page of law.com and join a group of nifty bloggers, most of whom I read on a regular basis. You can sign up to receive an overview of law.com blog posts on a daily basis here.
In a post-9/11 world, students are increasingly looking for a balanced lifestyle. They are willing to work hard. but they value a life outside of the firm, too. Collegiality, positive work environment, and good people to work with are important. Students try to judge the firm's culture and morale of a firm before they make a decision.
Despite soaring starting rates for associates, money is not the top factor in selecting a firm for associates and laterals. All panelists said it was w-a-y down the list. Culture, morale, environment, balance, and challenging work topped the list.
"Give me feedback on how I am doing." "I need a mentor not just to tell me how to be a better lawyer, but to show me the way." are oft-heard comments from young associates. More than ever, young attorneys want to know where they stand and what they have to do to succeed. More senior attorneys who are often their supervisors, grew up in a culture of not receiving feedback, and are not skilled at giving feedback.
Laterals, when considering a move, want to know, "Are people valued at this firm? Are associates happy? What is the turnover rater? What are the REAL hours? Will I get support?"
Associates want client contact. They want to understand the client's business and industry. They want to see the big-picture, not just "draft this contract". Some firms are paying attention, and opening opportunities for associates to work at the client's place of business, tour the factory/plant/mine/etc., and introducing associates to younger members of the in-house legal team. "Give me perspective. Why is this important?" associates ask.
Also, "Trust me. Engage me. Give me a chance to grow. Give me something that is important to the client. Give me client and prospect face-time."
This generation of lawyers are not conservative or stodgy. Word of mouth and personal experience mean a lot to them - more than numbers and NALP forms. Reputation and "buzz" on campus and in the community make a huge difference in recruiting. Send only good ambassadors.
Most law students and attorneys are introverts, so why recruit using receptions where everyone feels uncomfortable. Develop a one-on-one recruiting strategy and style.
"Be there". Pay attention to candidates when you interact. So many recruits comment that when they interviewed, the interviewing attorney seemed distracted, not interested, and uncaring. Listen.
Most students chose a firm knowing that they might leave within three or four years. If firms want to keep associates (and protect their investment), they need to focus on mentoring, balance, culture, morale and relationships.
Today's generation of law students are also looking for meaning. Many go into law school not knowing how they will use their J.D.. Firms that stand for something more than just money or making partner (which is harder to accomplish today), have a recruiting advantage. "Does the firm's values match mine? ". "Do they care about people?"
Only strong leadership can shape a firm's culture. Culture can be defined as the sum total of all the conversations and actions of a firm. Leaders model skills and attitudes valued by associates and laterals, such as active listening, caring, being in the moment, giving and receiving feedback, trusting, supporting, mentoring, and coaching. Values are only recognized when they are enforced, and leaders have the responsibility to enforce values, such as the 'no-jerk rule', open door policy, and a fostering a team environment.
Creating an environment that attracts and retains talent is a key responsibility of leaders. In most firms, these skills and attitudes are not naturally found. We need to provide opportunities for our attorneys to learn, practice, and explore how they can acquire and hone their leadership skills so that firms have the ability to pro-actively shape their culture and environment.
"Best-selling author, Colorado native and consultant Jim Collins on what separates the great from the merely good in business, nonprofits and other endeavors:
"Disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and disciplined action."
"What are the brutal facts? We've got to get a grip on the facts, what are the trends, what are the trendlines, how bad is it? Get a grip on the facts."
"Obsessive use of data. I hope you will fall in love with data."
"The good is the enemy of great."
"Business leaders need to become more like legislators (in a situation where power is dispersed). ... The ability to lead when you don't have the power is what those in the social sector have had to do."
"Good intentions are no excuse for incompetence." (paraphrasing Peter Drucker)
"Get the wrong people off the bus, and get the right people in the right seats." "
Join us this summer for a leadership workshop held on the Colorado River, near Moab Utah.
The purpose of the trip is to give attorneys - both in-house and outside counsel- four leadership tools that will help them manage change, take risks, build teams, and lead peers. Our setting is the magnificent Westwater Canyon of the Colorado River. The outfitter is Sheri Griffith Expeditions, who has been safely leading trips down the Colorado for 35 years. Westwater Canyon is a wonderful mix of beautiful canyon scenery and challenging whitewater. The 3-day, 2- night trip provides an environment and opportunity for conversations about risk, challenge, learning new skills, and having fun. No prior rafting experience is necessary.
I will be facilitating along with leaderhip coach Andy Cline. Andy is a leadership consultant who works with executive teams and non-profit organizations. He is a former instructor for NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and currently is responsible for teaching team-building and leadership skills to NASA astronauts on space shuttle and international space station missions.
Dates: August 25-27, 2996 Location: Grand Junction, Colorado Group Size: Space is limited to 22 people. Cost: $1,300, includes raft trip, guides, food, tents, and leadership workshop. $495 deposit. Reserve: Mark Beese, email@example.com
Jill Weber of Leonard, Street & Deinard and I will present a webinar on "Best Practices in Marketing" for IOMA on Wednesday, May 31, 2006. Jill has done a great job at developing client teams and cross-marketing efforts at Leonard Street. I'm looking forward to learning from her experience.