In my most recent series of blog posts, I’ve discussed ways that professional staff can add value without adding the cost to services. So far, I’ve covered helping in-house counsel with communications and branding, introducing inside attorneys to potential new clients for their own companies and helping in-house attorneys find other lawyers across the country and internationally.
Here’s another: Help your inside-counsel friends find their next jobs.
Law firm sales and marketing professionals know how hard it is to climb within their organizations. Many law firm sales and marketing staffs total 10-20 people, and even the largest are perhaps 50. Within these confines, the upward pathway is a bit difficult and the most-senior roles are very limited in numbers. The situation is similar in legal departments in much of Corporate America. Only the very largest companies have sufficient counsel populations to justify management structures and well-defined career pathways. This reality creates one of the best ways for law firm professional staff to add value for buyers of legal services: pay attention to inside counsel job openings and let our inside-counsel friends know about them at the earliest possible moment. Local-market openings are important, of course, but because law firms span large geographies, law firm professional staff may have knowledge about job openings in other cities that may not be known to our local inside-counsel friends. Providing a pathway for growth is one of the kindest, and most-valued gestures that law firm staff can provide.
Certainly, helping to create these pathways for inside counsel currently employed is appreciated. For those who are between jobs, it is a lifeline. Despite some glimmers of improvements in the economy over the last few months, times still are tough. I regret to report that in the last two weeks, three of my in-house counsel friends have suffered job losses due to reductions in force. You can bet that I am turning over every stone I can find to identify opportunities for them.
Beyond that, I think it’s particularly important to make contact quickly and in-person when we learn that anyone, including inside counsel, has lost his or her position. It is not easy to make these calls, but it is a human gesture of enormous importance to those on the receiving end, who, no doubt, are feeling abandoned, confused and angry. This gesture never will be forgotten.
BTI Consulting suggests that one of the attributes that differentiates a law firm, and its professionals, is a commitment to help. What better way to do so than to help improve our inside counsel friends’ career trajectories or helping them find a replacement job? The rewards for all of this may be tangible, as in getting future legal assignments for our firms, but, personally, I find enormous rewards plenty enough simply in being responsible for supplying a boost to a friend who could use it.