Content can do more for your law firm than just marketing.
It can level up your recruiting efforts.
It is a great time to be an in-demand attorney. But not so much for those law firms recruiting—or trying to retain—in-demand attorneys.
Partners and associates are reportedly wielding significant bargaining power right now in the face of clients’ insatiable demand for legal services. This bargaining power is being used in several ways, most notably to shape remote-work policies and demand signing bonuses that were once unheard of.
There’s a good chance that you and your colleagues are seeing firsthand just how much bargaining power some of your partners and associates have. The ones that are in demand are fielding recruiting offers from your peer firms. And the partners and associates your firm is recruiting may make demands that would have been laughed off just a few short months ago, but are now no laughing matter to the multiple firms vying for their commitment to join them.
As your law firm engages in the latest battle in the never-ending war for talent—remember all the talk in the mid-2010s about the lack of mid-level corporate associates thanks to the Great Recession?—your firm is going to have to differentiate itself in the eyes of potential lateral attorneys and staff members if it wants to stand out from the throng of other firms actively recruiting.
The good news is that with the key differentiator between law firms right now being the dollar amount of a signing bonus, your firm can meaningfully differentiate itself in the recruiting arena quickly. How so? By strategically creating recruiting content aimed at prospective lateral attorneys and staff members that addresses what they’re looking for at their next law firm and in their careers.
If your law firm has not yet begun a recruiting content program, or has one and is not sure about the direction it is going in, here are six ways your firm could use content as part of its recruiting efforts to improve the quantity and quality of the candidates it’s attracting and ultimately hiring.
Show prospective lateral partners how well your firm integrates and supports lateral partners.
If your law firm wants to attract lateral partners, it should create content answering the questions and assuaging the concerns a would-be lateral partner might have about bringing their practice and their book of business to your firm. You and your colleagues likely already know what these questions and concerns are going to be based on previous discussions with prospective lateral partners.
For example, much has been written about the difficulties law firms have faced integrating new lateral partners. Your firm could publish content that highlights successful integrations of lateral partners at your firm.
For those partners concerned about administrative support, your firm could publish content that shows off the wide range of support it provides partners, from paralegal support to marketing and business development support.
If your firm has an excellent track record of partners cross-selling the firm’s services, it should create and publish content regarding that track record so prospective lateral partners know your firm has a culture of partners helping to grow each other’s book of business.
Showcase the work of associates to attract law students, judicial clerks, and prospective lateral junior associates.
The new and lateral associate candidates wanting to join a law firm like yours are looking for hands-on work and control over their practices and careers. Your firm should create content that speaks to both.
That content should spotlight junior associates who are getting more responsibility and hands-on experience than associates with the same seniority at other firms tend to get. Likewise, that content should show how associates can take control of their practices and careers at your firm, such as by being encouraged to develop business or to investigate and build niche practices that could be pillars of the firm for years to come.
Talk about your firm’s homegrown partners to catch the eyes of prospective lateral mid-level and senior associates.
I bet the lateral mid-level and senior associate candidates your law firm interviews almost always ask about their partnership prospects should they join your firm. That’s not a surprise. Only the most ambitious (which, naturally, makes them the most attractive) lateral associate candidates are going to ask that question.
So why not create content in which your firm’s homegrown partners talk about their experiences, including how your firm lets associates know exactly where they stand regarding partnership prospects and gives them the resources they need to develop and improve those prospects?
Prove your firm is walking the walk with diversity, equity and inclusion.
Most of the staff members, associates, and partners your firm is courting will evaluate your firm’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts as they decide whether to continue having conversations with you and your colleagues about joining your firm.
Sure, they’ll be interested in learning what your firm is planning on doing regarding DEI, and your firm should continue publishing such content. But consider focusing on crafting content that explains the initiatives already in progress and indications that the initiatives are working. Obviously, initiatives that have increased the opportunities at your firm for staff members and attorneys of diverse backgrounds to prosper and lead should take priority.
Flaunt the breadth of your firm’s administrative support.
Yes, I mentioned administrative support above in connection with prospective lateral partners. But your law firm can bolster its standing with prospective lateral associates and staff members by highlighting the support the firm provides to all of its attorneys.
Prospective lateral associates will want to know they will have colleagues to delegate tasks to that would otherwise take them away from their core legal work. They’ll want to hear about the ways your firm’s paralegals, administrative assistants, tech support personnel, knowledge management team, and marketing and business development departments can help them excel by handling these tasks for them.
Of course, would-be staff members may also want to hear about their soon-to-be colleagues. They may be enthused by the prospect of joining and contributing to a team that is operating at the top of its game, as shown by your firm’s content featuring the work its administrative teams are doing. But they might be downright giddy at the prospect of joining a law firm that makes it crystal clear through its content that it knows just how important its administrative teams are to the success of the firm and its attorneys.
Put your firm’s innovation bona fides on display.
Law firms are rarely bashful when talking about their innovations. But all too often, the primary place firms do this talking is in press releases blasted out to the media and then archived on their websites for all of eternity.
If this describes your firm, it should instead craft content targeting lateral attorneys and staff members that discusses the firm’s innovations. After all, the people attracted to forward-thinking, innovative law firms are likely to be the people you want applying to open positions at your firm.
Your firm’s content should show lateral attorneys and staff members how your firm values innovation and creativity by spotlighting examples of your firm’s attorneys or staff members innovating by creating new internal processes, practice groups, products or services. Naturally, your firm will want to talk up its successful new ventures. But there is still value in discussing the ones that were conceived and developed but not commercially successful. That’s because what’s important here is proof that your firm values the ability of its people to come up with creative solutions for internal bottlenecks and client problems that can boost the firm’s—and their own—growth.
Take your content beyond marketing.
Content is a foundational marketing and business development tool. But your firm can put content to good use beyond helping build your attorneys’ books of business. A strategic content program targeting prospective lateral partners, associates, and staff members can give your law firm’s ongoing recruiting efforts a boost.
The program will help position your firm optimally in the eyes of these audiences as they seek new positions at new law firms. It will help assuage concerns they might have about joining your firm. And it will help your firm attract ideal candidates by giving them many reasons why your firm should be the next (and last?) place they move to in order to develop their skill sets and careers.
If you have any doubt about this opportunity to differentiate your firm, let’s make a bet.
Look at the websites of a handful of your peer firms (both geographically and based on your practice). I’ll bet you that most of those peer firms do not have a recruiting content program in place similar to the program I’ve laid out in this column.
Whether or not you force me to put my charitable donations where my mouth is, take this final thought with you. The law firms that embrace a recruiting content program will be best positioned to prevail in the never ending talent war all firms must engage in if they wish to grow and prosper.
Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service sets free the knowledge and wisdom trapped inside Big Law and boutique law firm partners by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content. Contact him at email@example.com or 215-454-2180.
Reprinted with permission from the August 31, 2021, edition of The Legal Intelligencer © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877–257–3382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.