Last week I met with a couple of attorneys from a small firm. We were talking about their marketing and business development efforts. And the elephant in the room was that their senior partners were not altogether supportive or comfortable with what they were doing or thinking of doing. So what should someone do in this situation?

First… you must get it very clear that a book of business is vital to YOUR practice and it is something you must develop just as you must develop into an awesome lawyer. But having said that, you are employed by a firm and you have an obligation to not only work for them but with them. Here are some ideas to gain support from your managing partner for your marketing and business development initiatives…

1. Write a marketing and business development plan… this will demonstrate that you have given it considerable thought. Each initiative should have goals and a way to measure results. How many meetings you expect to have, how many leads you expect to generate, what committee you will serve on, etc.etc.etc.

2. Remember that results should include increased credibility and visibility… it’s the foundation. It can’t be about landing a big client initially. 

3. Make sure your goals are somewhat aligned with the goals of the firm. Don’t try and start a new practice area if that is not the goal of the firm. 

4. Don’t ask for money… until you can show progress. If necessary use your own money to start with… your managing partner will be more inclined to support your efforts if you have already invested in yourself. Plenty of initiatives don’t cost a dime – the investment is time.

5. And lastly… don’t neglect your billable hour requirement. There is nothing that a managing partner dislikes more than someone who is not doing the job they were hired to do.

Address the elephant in the room. Don’t just give up because you think the managing partner won’t support you. Demonstrate your commitment and ability to understand his/her point of view. They have an obligation to the firm to keep the work flowing… so, I bet he/she will appreciate the initiative that you demonstrate. And remember you must be willing to compromise. Good luck!