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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Business Development and Hiring

There's an interesting article in the August 15, 2005 National Law Journal entitled, Focusing on Business Development, which discusses how many large law firms are hiring more and more nonlawyers to support business development and marketing. The gist of the piece is that marketing departments at law firms are getting larger and that many of these marketing professionals are also helping train lawyers how to pitch themselves.

The article stimulated a couple thoughts from me.

First, as a youngish lawyer in my third year of practice, I do not have that indignation about sales/marketing that I see in many older lawyers. I have actually started to do some paid advertising myself. A good resource in the Chicago area is the Legal Marketing Association. I am not a member, however, their people have presented at a number of conferences and I have actually used many of their ideas and surveys.

Second, question, what's the best mix of employees at smallish law firms? How many lawyers? Nonlawyers? What are the proper roles of the nonlawyers? I am thinking a good about this question right now as I consider making my initial hires. I'm torn between sort of an office manager and marketing person versus a pure legal assistant/secretary. Right now I'm leaning to the office manager/marketing person mainly because it seems to me I need to do a better job on billing/accounting and making sure I have clients and then when things get to really be hopping, add the legal person. Also, I think there should be greater separation between billing/collection and lawyers. I don't want my legal advice to be affected by my knowledge that this client might be behind in payments...leave that to the unbiased office manager. Your thoughts?


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