Making lawyers accountable for legal marketing is more important in small law firms than in larger ones for the simple reason that productivity (whether it be legal services or lawyer marketing) cannot be spread over as large a base.  Thus, it is much more critical that every lawyer in a small firm contribute to the generation of business.  That doesn’t mean they will, even if there is a financial penalty for not doing so.

I know of law firms (having actually worked at a couple) where lawyers were docked their draw on a monthly basis if they didn’t submit their billable hours on time.  Believe it or not, there were one or more lawyers that hadn’t received their draw for several months. I never understood why they acted this way.  However, most lawyers aren’t that stubborn or foolish.

So, how do you hold a lawyer accountable for marketing?  Larry Bodine has a post containing a two-minute podcast spelling out how one Chicago law firm deals with the issue.  Basically, it goes like this:

  • Every partner is required to develop a marketing plan for the year,
  • At compensation time, if they haven’t participated, made progress or obtained results, they are penalized in the five-figure range,
  • After the second year without participation, the penalty at least doubles and can reach six-figures, and
  • If that doesn’t work, the lawyer and the firm part company.

Pretty strong stuff, but if your firm is serious about legal marketing, you too need to hold your lawyers accountable in some manner.