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Marketing and Sales Tricks Law Firms Use for Recruiting

published July 29, 2021

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When law firms need to hire new attorneys, they use several well-known marketing and sales techniques to make their company stand out from the sea of other law firms. They want to attract the best lawyers with the best credentials, so in their law firm marketing efforts, they try to make their firm look better than the rest.
 

That is not always an easy task as law firms are generally very similar environments to work in. However, some know how to speak to and attract the right talent that can, in turn, help them separate from other law firms even further.


Throughout my years as an attorney and as a legal recruiter in BCG Attorney Search, I have seen thousands of these marketing pitches firms use to attract talent. And because every person is different, what appeals to one attorney and convinces them to want to work somewhere might put off another one. In this article, you will find the 15 most used marketing tactics used by law firms, why they work (or don't work) for lawyers, and how firms try to use them to attract the people they want.
 

15 Marketing Tactics Many Law Firms Use in Recruiting New Talent

 
  1. Money
  2. Reputation to the law firm
  3. Company culture
  4. Morale and excitement of employees
  5. Diversity
  6. Growth potential
  7. A lot of work/business
  8. Practice area expertise
  9. Support and mentorship within the firm
  10. Office location
  11. Perks
  12. Flexibility
  13. Early responsibility
  14. The attractiveness of the offices
  15. Size of the firm


Money as a Law Firm Marketing Trick


The money a law firm can offer you is often the most important thing for attorneys. They are willing to overlook many other aspects of the company if the pay is high enough. That can be both a good and a bad thing.

When I was still a young attorney, I made the mistake of only looking at how much I could earn. I didn't know that it was a mistake at that time, of course. I was working in the most prestigious firm in Los Angeles but got an offer to switch to a law company in New York where I would get almost twice the salary than at my position in LA. I liked my LA firm otherwise, but the difference was just too big to pass on. But the New York firm turned out to be a disaster - there was no work, partners were leaving, mergers didn't pan out as they wanted them to. I quickly started to regret my decision; however, I couldn't have known that before I switched.

Money is the deciding factor for most attorneys and law firms know that. All attorneys try to find out how much money they can earn each year, what percentage do they get for business they bring in, what bonuses does the firm pay and how much are they, how performance and billed hours factor in their pay, how does the salary compare to salaries in other markets in terms of standard of living, etc.

On the other hand, if someone doesn't accept an offer, they often mention that the compensation wasn't high enough, the bonuses were low, or that the attorney has too much debt or living expenses that the salary wouldn't be sufficient for their needs.

If law firms do not offer a competitive salary, they often try to balance it by pointing out that the bonuses are given based on performance. Therefore, if you try hard enough, you can earn more, they can offer you more work/life balance than large firms who give you more money, you can become a partner and advance much faster, the work is more interesting, or you have much better stability.
 

The Reputation of the Law Firm


The reputation of different law firms has a lot of weight in the eyes of peers, superiors, and prospective clients. After money, the firm's reputation is the second most important factor in deciding where to accept an offer for most attorneys.

There are several rankings, and elements attorneys look at to assess the reputation of a firm. These include opinions of their colleagues and other lawyers on the internet; type of clients the firm represents; the quality of the legal services or other professional services they offer; size and age of the company and how much they pay; the reputation of the firm in the area; the background of the attorneys (whether they went to top law schools, clerked at the Supreme Court, etc.); whether they have been in scandals, or how well-known are they in the country. There are, however, also various objective law firm online rankings in different legal directories that contribute to the firm's reputation a lot. Some of the rankings lawyers can look at include BCG Attorney Search Law Firm Rankings, Chambers Rankings, Vault Rankings, US News Rankings, or local market rankings.

The law firm's overall reputation can really sway the decision of an attorney whether to work there or not. Every attorney will always make an offer from the law firm with the best reputation, while they might turn down an offer from a firm in the midst of a scandal with a bad reputation.

Attorneys choose law firms with a better reputation not only because of their prestige. They often believe that a good reputation comes with access to more and better legal work, better training and mentors, more money, improvement of your resume, and easier switching firms or moving laterally. Being surrounded by better and more competitive lawyers can also help you better yourself and your skills. So many lawyers are willing to change firms if the opportunity strikes and they receive an offer from a firm with a better reputation.

When a law firm is battling a bad reputation or is in the middle of a scandal in the media, social media, or the eyes of other firms, they often try to fight it in front of potential clients and employees. They either deny that they are a part of any scandal or explain how they have changed their structure, practices, or approach that made the current situation much better. They could also say that they are now changing the approach and have much room to grow. Whether you believe it and how it affects your decision as an attorney is very individual.
 

Company Culture in the Law Firm


Company culture cannot be easily explained to an outsider. It is comprised of the people who work in the firm, how they look, their professional and personal values, how they act toward each other and people outside of the company, how the hierarchy works, which law school they went to, how open the leadership is to changes and new ideas, what values the company considers most important, the environment the firm is located in, and many other factors that can sometimes be too nuanced even to describe. When you fit in with the firm's company culture, you naturally feel comfortable around the attorneys working there because you have similar views, opinions, or behaviors.

Some firms base their culture on making the most money, working the most hours, or representing high-profile clients in big cases. In other firms, coming from the top law schools with the highest quality training might be an essential component of the law firm's culture. Work/life balance, flexibility, open communication without a rigorous hierarchy, or stance on pro bono work might form the basis of law firms. Political leaning, religion, race, gender, or nationality can also be significant for the overall company culture.

Not fitting with the culture can discourage lawyers from starting at the firm or leave early because not having the same values and views as people you spend most of your time with can be very difficult professionally and personally. It can lead to being unhappy, dissatisfied, unable to fulfill work tasks, and not advancing in work. Attorneys will often say that they did not feel comfortable there, the people were not comparable to them, the employees working there seemed unhappy or had to work constantly.

Law firms often use their culture and what is unique about it during the recruitment process. So when they start interviewing and want to hire new people, they typically try to figure out what is important to you and what you care about and emphasize it during the interview process. They may also mention attorneys in the firm that come from the same city or law school as you. They might even have you meet and talk with them. On the other hand, they might make a special effort to shield you from people you might not like so that you will only meet them after you are hired already.
 

Morale and Excitement of Employees


Like any other business, most law firms go through periods of time with less and more success. When the firm is doing well, attorneys are usually very excited to work there, and the company uses it to attract new talent. Why wouldn't everyone want to work in a thrilling environment where everyone is full of energy and ready to take on any challenge?

These exciting periods are usually when the firm grows very quickly, just won a high-profile case or took on a big client, or hired a new big-name attorney. During such times, every employee has high morale and enthusiasm because they anticipate new business, more work, and more money. It is not uncommon to see smiles all around the office, and people are happy to be there.

Attorneys that choose to work in a law firm based on this often report that they felt good there because everyone was happy and excited about the job and considered it a wonderful place to work at. They might say that the office seemed fun and full of energy with young and excited attorneys.

On the other hand, if the firm is not doing so well, people there might be unhappy, thinking of leaving, or already leaving in big numbers, and candidates will notice that during interviews. They often tell me that they didn't choose the firm because attorneys seemed unhappy and had low energy, the work there seemed slow, and the attorneys didn't feel good and enthusiastic about the firm.

If a law firm currently is in the "up" phase and people are excited to be there, they will often market it to new potential talent with emphasizing that attorneys working there are young, full of energy, excitement, and fun to be around and work with. They may also point out that everyone in the firm gets along very well and does many after-work activities to improve the team and do something fun.
 

Diversity in the Law Firm


Diversity has been an important topic for many years but grew even more important recently, so it becomes increasingly important for law firms to emphasize their pledge to diversity. If a firm fails to address diversity and does not employ attorneys with diverse backgrounds, it may lose not only great talent but also many potential clients who demand diversity of companies they work with. That is why most companies, including law firms, include statements addressing their positive stance on diversity in their workplace and their steps to help this cause.

Diversity is usually looked at from the point of how many employees in the firm are of a different race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or political leaning, who the company associates with, their statements and actions toward the issues of diversity, or how tolerant the firm is to people with different views of the world. How diverse people feel in the firm, and the number of these people in power is also an important aspect of commitment to diversity.

When candidates choose a law firm based on their positive approach to diversity, it sometimes happens because there are already attorneys of the candidate's race/sexuality/religion/nationality, etc., working there and feel comfortable working there and can get to a position of power. Having diverse clients may also help attract candidates.

If a firm is a part of a scandal or has been sued for violation of equal rights or diversity, such as sexual harassment, discrimination based on gender, race, religion, racism, it will usually put off candidates who care about firms being diverse. They may say that they felt uncomfortable there, everyone in the firm looked the same, there was no space for a person like them, the firm didn't care about diversity or different views, or the firm's management was outdated.

Firms often have sections dedicated to diversity in their marketing materials or websites to attract applicants who consider this important. They may emphasize how many people in management come from diverse backgrounds or have specialized training to help make their culture more inclusive.
 

Growth Potential


Nobody wants to stay in one position their whole lives. Every attorney joins a firm with the prospect of advancing their career gradually. That means getting more responsibility with the work, getting better clients to take care of, becoming more senior, making partners, or increasing compensation as a partner. Attorneys choose firms based on how easy or difficult this process is and how fast they can progress.

If the law firm doesn't fire attorneys who cannot make partners after a certain period of time, it may help persuade attorneys to work there. Some attorneys may choose a smaller firm because there is a better possibility of fast advancement. If partners are approaching their retirement stage, candidates might choose that firm in hopes of taking over that partner's clients. Emphasizing that a firm has a lot of growth opportunities might persuade some attorneys.

If it is difficult to make partners in a firm, it takes too long, or the particular office hasn't made anyone a partner for years, attorneys who consider this an important factor in choosing a firm will not want to work there. Also, if they find out that everyone is leaving after not making partners or letting go of attorneys who have been there for years without making partners, they will choose a different firm.

Some firms will specifically mention that it is quite easy to make partners there. You do not need to bring in new business to make partners or teach you how to get new business to attract candidates. They may also compare themselves to other firms in the area and emphasize that it is easier and faster to make partners in their firm or make more partners than the other firms.
 

A Lot of Work/Business in the Law Firm


If a law firm has many business and existing clients, they will usually advertise it to every potential employee. Why? Having enough business means that the firm is doing well. The attorneys have more work stability and security and a steady work stream even without new clients. They need people to do the legal work, so they will not want to fire anyone. The work opportunities are also more available in a busy firm.

That might be appealing to some attorneys; however, it won't persuade everyone. It might even discourage some people as a busy firm might evoke the feeling that attorneys are not valued as people but only as a workforce and will be let go the minute they are not performing. Attorneys might also think that their personal life and boundaries will not be taken into account, and their physical and mental health will suffer because of these unsuitable working conditions.

Busy law firms that want to appeal to lawyers who want to work a lot usually emphasize that there will always be enough work to do for them and that with enough work, it will be much easier for them to become partners. They will also mention that with the volume of work, the attorney will bill a lot of hours, earn a high bonus, gain experiences they wouldn't get in a different firm, and won't have to bring in new clients.
 

Substantial Practice Area Expertise


Law practice is a very diverse industry, and every practice area has its own specifics. That is why the firm's expertise in their practice areas is sometimes significant for deciding which firm to start working next. If a company is a go-to firm in a certain practice area, the chances are that it will be a good marketing trick to attract ambitious lawyers. If the law firm employs several top attorneys in a certain practice area, for instance, personal injury, who have received awards, gets the most business in that particular area, or if the firm has a top-notch reputation and is on top of legal directories in the area, it may play a big role in persuading other personal injury attorneys to choose that firm.

If the law firm doesn't have a good reputation in the area the attorney is in, doesn't employ many attorneys with their expertise, or doesn't get a lot of business in that area; the attorney will probably not choose the firm as they would be doing themselves and their career a disservice.
 

Support and Mentorship Within the Firm


Learning from the best can go a long way in the legal industry. You can get the best training, and just being associated with the big names can immensely help you in your career. Working under a well-known lawyer might persuade someone to join a firm they wouldn't consider otherwise. Also, if an attorney believes that someone in the firm might protect them and help them advance in their career, it might help them decide.

However, if the firm doesn't have anyone who could train the attorney very well or doesn't have anyone they know and trust inside the firm in a powerful position, they might not want to start there just because they would not get into the best position they can.

Firms sometimes let senior attorneys interview the candidates they have something in common with, such as law school they went to, to try and create a bond between them as it lets the attorney know that they will have someone looking over them in the firm. They also create mentorship initiatives and programs within the firm to help new hires. Perhaps they mention this during the interviewing process or hire attorneys who already have relationships with people in the firm. However, the most common practice that lets candidates know that they will be mentored in the firm is less formal meetings in a bar between the candidate and the partner they would be working under. It has been working for decades and continues to work now for large law firms and smaller ones.
 

The Law Firm Office Location


The office location is sometimes a big part of a law firm's marketing strategy to attract new talent. It can be crucial for some individual attorneys, especially in big city areas where it can take hours to get from one side of the city to the other. Attorneys usually want an office in the best part of the city, well connected by public transportation and good parking, with many convenient places like bars, restaurants, or shops close by, and not far from nice places to live.

If the office is too far from or not well connected enough to the attorney's home address, they might not even consider an interview. If the office is in a less than good neighborhood or there are no places around to go to, it might also discourage attorneys from wanting to work there.

However, if a law firm has an office in a wanted area, they will market it everywhere. Sometimes it becomes an important part of the firm. In specialized areas, such as Aspen, Montana, or even Beverly Hills, it can sometimes attract certain attorneys that can work if they know how to market it.
 

Perks and Benefits


There are many different perks and benefits a firm can offer that can sway the decision of an attorney to start working in a firm. Some firms offer free lunches and free snacks throughout the day, so you don't have to spend anything on food when you are at work. Other firms help their employees with a down payment toward a house or have separate budgets for personal development, client development benefits, business development, or other aspects of the job. Some firms even offer their attorneys assistants to help them deliver their documents throughout the day or service to give attorneys a fresh set of clothes after an all-nighter. The perks can vary greatly, but if the firm has enough of them that an attorney wants, they can base their decision on it or switch firms to get better perks.

Whether the perks are health insurance, tickets to events, partner insurance, sick days, relocation or vacation bonus, or anything else, it can make a difference. Many attorneys are sold based on these things. Some attorneys will even turn down an offer because the firm doesn't have enough benefits or benefits an employee would want.

All law firms have to do is air out the benefits they offer. Those attorneys who value the benefits they offer will come once they know about them. Many attorneys ask about these things during an interview, and if the firm can make the benefits seem appealing, it can definitely help some attorneys make the decision.
 

Flexibility in the Firm


Flexibility has become an important part of today's workplace, especially for young attorneys. They want to control when and where they work, and some firms can offer that. Whether parents want to take care of their children during the day or a partner who needs to take their spouse to doctor's appointments, some firms are willing to meet their attorneys' requirements regarding their work schedule and workplace. Virtual offices have become more and more commonplace in the last years and months, which means even more flexibility for attorneys than before.

If an office is not flexible enough, candidates will often complain about being in the office or face-to-face time being significant for the firm.

Firms try to play into the needs of attorneys for a flexible workplace by allowing them to work virtually or building their whole company on being virtual. Other firms have flexible schedules and allow their employees to choose when and where they work, which will attract a significant number of attorneys.
 

Early Responsibility


When an attorney starts working in a firm, they don't just want to do the paperwork for others, even if they are right out of law school. They want to work the cases, go to court, argue for their clients, write briefs, take depositions, and pitch ideas. Many attorneys will leave firms because they cannot get their hands on their own responsibilities.

If an attorney chooses a firm based on the fact that they will have early responsibility, they will often report that they can develop their skills early on or lead trials in no time. On the other hand, if a law firm doesn't give responsibility to their employees, attorneys will say that they didn't choose the firm because they would never be able to go to trial or fight their own case.

If a firm can give responsibility early on, they will often emphasize if someone did a trial in their first or second year. They might also say that their more senior attorneys don't really like going to courts and let the associates do it.
 

The Attractiveness of the Law Offices


For many law firms, the location and the state, and the attractiveness of their offices act as the pull that attracts new talent. If a firm has nice offices with high-quality appliances, it can help persuade many attorneys to work there.

Most attorneys think that the best law firms have the best and nicest offices, mostly true because they have the most money. That means that emphasizing the attractiveness and quality of offices might help in recruitment. If the offices are new, in a good location, the furniture is high-quality, and the size of the offices is generous, it will definitely help attract the best talent.

Some attorneys justify not starting in a firm because of the old and outdated offices with crappy furniture, and it makes sense. Who would want to work behind a half-rotten desk in a shared office? It doesn't make anyone feel good!
 

Size of the Firm


The firm's number of offices and size is an important factor for attorneys deciding where to work as the size directly relates to the law firm's success. Many attorneys do not want to work in local law firms as they are often scared that they are not stable enough. A big law firm with many offices and many attorneys often equates with success.

Suppose a law firm has many offices in different cities across the states. In that case, it might help persuade candidates as they might feel it is much easier to transfer to a different location. They have much more opportunities there in comparison to some smaller firms.

Many attorneys choose to decline offers because the firm is too small or has too few locations. On the other hand, if a firm has many locations and offices, they will often mention it as a sign of prosperity and growth. And it works!

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