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.