In a recent Law360 article, “5 Things Law Firms Do That Waste Time,” Mark Jungers, co-founder of , a global legal recruiting firm focusing on top-tier partner placement, discussed how firms waste resources by “…trying to turn everybody into a business developer. Time could be saved, and better results achieved, if only ‘the best’ associates got special training and opportunities.” (I would add that this applies to partners as much as associates.)
I wholeheartedly agree with Mark and applaud him for clearly stating it. Firms are concerned with their return on marketing investment but, perhaps because they operate under the impression that they are a partnership in the egalitarian sense of the word, they want to give everyone an equal chance when it comes to marketing support or business development training. Time and again when we start work with a firm, they ask us to individually interview a relatively large swath of the firm’s professionals so that everyone feels included. We have no problem doing this as it allows us to better understand the firm; however, we can predict with certainty that within a few months we will be working only with a handful of these lawyers – those who understand the crucial aspect of marketing in their career success and the opportunity their firm is offering them.
Firms usually know which of their professionals warrant an investment in BizDev training, and it has no relationship to what practice areas they may want to promote. Yet they usually try to push everyone to become a rainmaker, with predictable results.
I’m not saying that firms shouldn’t give everyone the opportunity to bite at the BizDev bit. But most often the large group we initially start with includes lawyers who have repeatedly demonstrated zero interest in developing business. They play their own important role in the firm. It would be more efficient to acknowledge and support them in this, rather than throwing more dollars after them in a futile attempt to turn them into something they do not want to be.
Improved return on marketing investment happens when a firm recognizes that certain people are a better bet for investment in time and training. Concentrate your efforts on them, and reap the results.