Law Students and Young Lawyers

The Business Development Question

I speak to a number of newly called lawyers looking to secure a job as an associate.

I tell these applicants that they should  be ready to answer a question about business development.  Here are my tips:

  1. No one expects you to have a solid plan for developing business at this stage of your career. However, they may want to determine whether you recognize that developing a client base is important and if you have any interest in doing that.
  2. It would be really nice if you were prepared to say something less generic and incredibly boring than that you plan to go to lunch, write articles, and give presentations.
  3. Some things that would have impressed me:
    • You have a long-term plan to create a niche for yourself in a particular area of law or industry.
    • You are an active member in some type of community, whether it be based on your faith or ethnicity, something cultural, or an interest in a particular sport, intellectual pursuit, or other activity, and a plan for developing business from other members of that community.
    • You have worked on your social media presence and are already developing a reputation for having an interest in and knowing something about an area of legal practice or a particular industry.
    • You keep up with your law school friends and understand that in a few years they will be in a position to refer work.

And then there is the famous, “do you have any questions for us?”

Well, yes, I do!  How about, “What support does the firm provide to its associates to assist them to develop their practice?  Does the firm make available the services of a marketing consultant?  Is there a budget to meet and socialize with potential referral sources? Does the firm have a marketing coordinator to assist with organizing events and presentations?  Are these supports made available to first year lawyers, or are they phased in over time, and if so, over what period of time?

Showing your interest in building a practice may not be seen as a tremendous positive in some Big Law firms, but it sure as hell will be looked upon favourably in most medium sized and smaller firms.  Be ready to show that you get it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *