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Making the Most of Your Attorney Orientation Process — for Marketing's Sake


By Tara Parker           

Tips from the Trenches: Here's what one law firm marketer does to make sure new law firm hires understand the role marketing plays in their new firm — from square one.

attorney orientation

Every firm has an orientation process for new attorneys and other professionals. They all need to learn the phone and computer systems, the methods for handling travel, mail, and courier service, and myriad other details. It's also crucial to show new attorneys how the marketing department works and what it can do for them, so at firms where I have worked, I have put in place a marketing orientation specifically designed to accomplish that goal.

One of my responsibilities as business development and marketing coordinator is to lead each new attorney, patent agent and technical specialist through a marketing orientation during their first two weeks at the firm. It only takes 30 minutes, and I have found the orientation to be very valuable in introducing our department to the professionals it serves. Some of them have transferred from other law firms and are comfortable with the role of marketers in the law firm. For others, this is his or her first job out of school, and they are clueless about a marketer's role in a law firm. The following examples of what we do, may be helpful to you in developing your own orientation program.

Plan ahead

Before meeting with the new hires, I review their resumes, trying to glean as much information as possible before meeting my new co-workers. I arrive about 10 minutes before the  start of the meeting in order to set up a nice arrangement of Sterne Kessler logo items for each attendee. 

Keep it simple

I begin by introducing myself and my role in the firm and in our marketing department. Since our department is small, I can easily cover each member's name, title, responsibilities and where to find us in the firm. From there, I briefly explain the "three sides" of legal marketing (marketing, business development and public relations) and how each will be relevant to the new professional — even if he or she doesn't know it yet — as tools for the building and strengthening of a law practice.

Use your web site as teaching tool

Next, we go to the web site. I highly recommend using your firm's web site in a marketing orientation. Normally, it's engaging and information-packed -- if it isn't, I recommend an overhaul of the site -- and I have received wonderful feedback concerning the information Sterne Kessler is looking for in a biography, whether the shorter version or the longer professional profile.  If attorneys are in the orientation, I pull up a few attorney biographies. If there are patent agents in the room, I display patent agent biographies. Each orientation is tailored to the attendees, so each one is different. After we've reviewed the biographies online, I show the attendees other key portions of the site. I review the Publications section and remind them to notify me of any publications they have authored or news clips they may be featured in, so that they will be placed up on the site (with the proper permissions of course!)

Be a friend

After the meeting, the new hires are given "Guidelines for Writing Your Professional Biography" in an outline format as a takeaway so they don't forget what we discussed.  I tell them if they have any questions, they should simply call me. Since I've been around for five years, I get questions about the dress code, air conditioning, places for lunch ‚ you name it. That's part of what I enjoy, being a resource and someone whom new attorneys can trust and feel comfortable around.

One would think giving the same speech over and over would become quite dull, but it's not. I love learning about people and where they came from and what brought them to our firm. But the best part is that our firm is growing rapidly and I am one of the very few people who knows everybody.

September 2007.

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