Take the initiative (as an associate) and become an expert

LegalJob was recently asked for some client development ideas. The associate below is from another country but the advice should have general application in that her ties to the other country are just another way to distinguish her.  Perhaps your firm does a lot of work for clients in a particular area.  Promote yourself as the go to person in that area and proceed accordingly.  Ideally this area will have some (even if tenuous) relationship to your practice area.

Q:  I am not sure where to focus my efforts for the purpose of generating clients.  I recently started a new job as a mid-level associate at a large firm.  I was born in [a foreign country] and speak fluent [the language of the citizens of that country].  Coincidentally, my firm represents a couple of clients from [my country].  To help develop contacts, I recently joined the bar association which has members from [the foreign country].  Any thoughts you have are greatly appreciated.

Answer:  The bar association is good but may be a bit limited as far as client leads because the folks you meet are likely your competition, going after a similar client base.  Consider marketing yourself both inside the firm and outside as the go to person for legal matters relating to [the foreign country].  You have a unique opportunity in that your firm represents client from [the foreign country] and you are from that country.  Consider taking the following steps to help make you invaluable inside and outside of the firm (in any particular area):

▸ Contact lawyers who you know that work in the country

  • Explain that there may be an opportunity to cross-sell in that you can recommend their specialized (in country) services to the firm's clients from that country and they can recommend you to clients with US legal issues.
  • Ask them for suggestions about preferred on-line legal publications/new services that cover the hot legal issues in that country and interesting legal issues that arise from doing business in the U.S. and in that country.
  • Ask for suggestions about local publications for which you could write articles about doing business in the US.

▸ Sign up for a couple of these databases such that the articles appear in your inbox every day

▸; Meet with the partner(s) at your firm that represent clients from the foreign country

  • Learn about the business of the client (do this on your own time and take the necessary time).
  • Learn the specifics of the legal services the firm is providing the client.
  • Learn about business and legal issues affecting the client's business.

▸ Write a weekly memo to the billing partner(s) with clients from the foreign country

▸ Summarize current legal issues that could possibly be relevant to the firm's clients

  • The memo should be formal, concise, and brief (no e-mails).
  • The memo should be flawless (well written and no typos).

▸; Gauge firm/partner interest and consider hosting regular lunches (monthly or quarterly) discussing topics relevant to this area

  • These lunch meetings can start out internal.
  • If the interest exists, consider hosting outside (or firm partner) speakers and inviting firm clients.

▸ Create opportunities to write about interesting legal issues in this area in US publications and the publications suggested above

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