Most employees of law firms are in a great position to help in the firm’s business development efforts – or help damage them. A lot of that depends on how they are treated, how much that love or hate their job, and are otherwise engaged in the business of the law firm.

This is particularly true if a staff member has ANY contact with clients or prospective clients. And how many don’t? It’s pretty simple: if they are unhappy, they will NOT be nice to clients in the long haul. Linda Klein, a shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz writes in the current issue of Law Practice Today:

“It takes only one bad experience to jeopardize a client relationship or to ruin a firm’s reputation. And it doesn’t matter if that bad experience comes from an interaction with a lawyer or a staff member—your business is bound to feel the result.”

She goes on to talk about the difference between a “satisfied employee and an engaged employee.” The latter are far more productive, loyal, and happy – oh, did I mention nicer to clients as well. The thrust of her article is about ways a firm can improve morale and how her firm’s efforts have resulted in it making Fortune magazine’s “Top 100 Companies to Work For” list the past two years. Her suggestions include communicating more effectively with staff, listening to them, and providing meaningful feedback. Read her article for other ideas that can help foster more engaged employees.

Bottom line: “Engaged employees are happier, more loyal, and care more about the firm and its clients.” And it is smart marketing to work at engaging your staff.