I found it somewhat interesting that both of these articles came to my attention yesterday, as they both deal with something I haven’t seen many people talk about, let alone firms that actually embrace the idea. They both mention the importance of non-lawyer staff of law firms in building relationships, networking, and attracting clients to the firm.
Kevin O’Keefe, naturally, looks at it from the Social Networking aspect in After hours use of social media by law firm employees key to client development.
Meanwhile Melissa from Paralegalese has a post by Jay Fleischman titled Why Paralegals Need to Help Market Their Law Firms.
Both posts fit in to what I’ve been saying for a long time about Social Networking and why you should actually encourage it. It’s networking, and networking, assuming you’ve hired good people you can trust, is always a plus for your organization. When the good people you hired go out and represent you, they make your organization attractive to potential clients, potential hires, and the public in general. In turn, during a time when it’s absolutely vital that you can show your value to your organization, what better value can you bring to the table than attracting new clients or good hires to your employer?
I’m not saying this takes the place of doing a good job. Not by a long shot, but in a tight budget tough decisions about who gets promoted, or who gets a raise, or even who gets laid off, have to be made. Whenever you can bring in a little extra value, you have to try and do it!
Let me give you an example. Last year, we were facing a tough budget decision about whether I would be able to go to the ILTA Conference. No one questioned that there would be value in me going, but how much value was another question. However, when I was asked to speak, suddenly, there was no question. Now, not only was I getting the value of attending the conference and all the networking that goes with that, but I was also publicly representing the firm as a speaker. That extra value really helped clear the way to me going, and of course, that speaking opportunity was brought about by connections I’ve made through online networking.
Of course, I’ve also been heard to say that clients don’t hire a law firm because their tech guy is so good, even in Litigation Support. I do still believe that in general. If a lawyer is a jerk, me being a nice guy and great at what I do isn’t going to help push a client to hire us. Still, if a decision is being made between two otherwise equal attorneys, if the Lit Support person that you know you’ll also have to work with to some degree is someone you have interacted with already, that can help push it in the right direction for you. Sometimes, it really is just the smallest little “extras” you bring to the table that make all the difference.
What do you think? Should firms embrace the idea that even non-lawyer staff represent them and should be encouraged to engage online? Or is that still too scary for most?