How to be a High-Powered Associate


[author: Martha Newman, J.D. ]

Even Associates Should Network to Bring in New Business

I put a lot of emphasis on business development in my meetings with clients, including associates who are not typically expected to develop their own books of business. But since they don't teach networking and self-promotion in law school, I like to guide associates into believing  that - yes - they too can be high-powered rainmakers.

So what the secret?

Well, it's certainly more than having courage and high self-esteem. It's knowing how to network and tap assistance from partners to build and strengthen your own connections.

The following is an excellent excerpt from a Law Practice Today article on a similar topic. The author, Christy Burke, has gathered networking and business-building insight from two associates who have intrinsically learned how to take their careers to the next level.

Jeremy Cohen, a senior associate at Kramer Levin’s New York office, has made the most of his personal network and contacts to bring business into his firm. He has brought in two new real estate litigation clients plus additional business from current clients. Cohen recommends a soft-sell approach, while also not being shy about asking for the business.

Cohen admits “it’s inherently awkward when you’re meeting new people cold, and when it’s purely a business relationship.” He recommends a casual, low-pressure approach after meeting a contact for the first time. After a few days, follow up by phone or e-mail and set up a lunch.

“Nothing bad ever comes from having lunch with somebody — a social lunch can turn into a real opportunity,” says Cohen, who will sometimes invite a partner along to a business meal or presentation to extend his individual clout. “As an associate, you have to market yourself differently than if you were a partner, but you can still develop business.”

...many firms have initiated mentorship programs to help associates develop their legal acumen, but also to help them market themselves. One such firm is Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider (AV&H) in New York. Nick Gaglio is a seventh-year associate at the firm and he has taken advantage of these resources to learn about business development.

Gaglio notes that his firm gives each associate a marketing budget specifically to entertain clients, prospects and other key contacts. “By making associates responsible for our own marketing budgets, even from an early point in our careers, AV&H puts the building blocks in place for future business development expectations.”

He adds that as associates become more senior at his firm, they are highly encouraged to become involved in bar association committees, and to take on a leadership role. While working on these committees, associate attorneys can showcase their substantive value and skills by participating in publications, events and other projects.

It's never too early to get a head start on business development when you are an associate. Be aware of the opportunities around you. Make time for networking. Develop your own rainmaking style. Doing all of this will set you apart from the rest of the associates in your firm.

Source: The Place to Network - Blow that Curve by Christy Burke

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