When I was in-house as the first marketing person in the mid-80’s, I had no staff to speak of – as in none, except for a great secretary I shared with a lawyer. You can imagine how much of her time I got. I quickly learned to utilize any staff person – librarian, copy room people, paralegals, etc. I could con…………err sweet talk into helping me on various projects.

The important lesson I learned is that the staff of law firms are bright and talented. And they can be extremely helpful, if they are given the respect they deserve. In this month’s issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Today there is an article about managing relationships with your staff by Sheila Blackford, who is the practice management advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund.

Her “staff relationship checklist” includes:

  • Is your firm’s mission shared with and instilled in your staff?
  • Does your staff look at their position as a job or a career?
  • Do you support the staff’s professional growth?
  • Is your staff’s security also built into your long-term plans?
  • Do you know the staff’s strengths and weaknesses, and utilize them most effectively?

Respecting, committing to and building on staff relationships can turn an untapped resource into a real law firm asset. Those who look at working at the firm as a career vs. a job, can become roving marketing ambassadors for the firm.

  • Hi Tom-
    Excellent points and questions to ask. I posted about using paralegals in your law firm marketing efforts over at Paralegal Gateway this past November. Your readers may be interested in seeing it. The bit-ly link is http://bit.ly/5XQxmz (I would give the full link but it’s extremely long).

  • Hi Tom and Jay,
    Thanks for posting (both the article and the comment). I agree, law firm staff can be incredibly valuable in marketing the firm. As a legal marketing consultant, I often ask my clients how they feel about getting more involvement from their staff. Particularly, I am trying to find out if there’s a chance we can encourage staff members to work on a company blog, posting articles and keeping it up to date. Often, my clients are surprised to realize that this is a great way for almost any employee to contribute in their own way to the company’s marketing efforts. On my legal marketing blog at http://www.advoltlegal.com/category/legal-marketing-blog/ I try to post articles and tips that enable anyone working at a law firm to contribute to their firms marketing campaigns. Again, thanks for bringing up this topic. I look forward to reading more about it.

  • Hello Tom
    Given that all the staff of a firm have a network of friends and relatives who will need legal services, it is important to encourage everyone to see themselves as an ambassador for the firm and reward introductions. Some firms do this formally, by offering a ‘friends and family’ discount or by publishing a league of who has introduced most clients in a particular period.
    The previous point about sharing a firms strategy and vision is really important if you want to encourage staff in this way.