Lawyers do not have to do all the marketing and business development by themselves. They can and should involve their staff as much as practicable.

Early in my in-house marketing career I got as many non-marketing staff as possible to help with marketing, since I had no departmental staff to speak of. I cajoled and otherwise drafted as many as I could, including our librarian (research and as a source of firm data), paralegal (newsletters – design and drafting), receptionist (mailings), copy room (organizing, copying and binding proposals), to name a few. It sure made my job easier and I was more effective by not trying to do it alone.

I continue to be amazed how few law firms engage their non-marketing staff in the firm’s business development efforts. Actually, if you think about it, your staff is already involved in your firm’s marketing whether you want them to be or not; and whether it is in the firm’s best interests or not. If the staff has contact with clients, prospects and referral sources, which certainly receptionists, secretaries and paralegals do, they can help or hurt the firm’s reputation by how they relate to outside contacts. If the secretary is rude with any contact (god forbid a client) or the receptionist blows off a caller (hint: pet peeve to follow) by sending him/her directly into voicemail without another word, for example, such contact (or lack thereof) can be very damaging. Even how staff members act in public can reflect poorly on the firm, believe it or not.

So it behooves law firms to provide staff with some marketing training, or at least guidance on how they should behave toward those they encounter in their role with the firm.

Moreover, the staff can play a greater role than simply treating clients and prospects well, and behaving in public. They can, if instructed and then empowered by their lawyers, actively contribute to the firm’s marketing efforts. A few simple suggestions on how non-marketing staff might get involved include:

• Tracking Google alerts for info about specific clients and others,
• Remembering important client facts and dates (anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, etc.),
• Scheduling marketing activities for their lawyer(s),
• Keeping mailing lists up to date, and
• Suggesting regular interaction with their Outlook contacts.

If you respect your staff, encourage them to be an integral part of the team, and reward them for taking a bigger role in the firm’s success, you may just find that they can add considerable value to the firm, beyond their regular duties.