Knowing Your Firm is Key to Integrating Laterals

There are two main goals when integrating laterals into your firm: (1) get their book of business up and running and (2) integrate them into your firm’s culture.

They may not be sitting in the boardroom or be privy to every hiring conversation, but when the new attorney shows up on the first day, newer legal marketers will be on the front lines to ensure the transition is seamless. This is critical for everyone at the firm, says Mandy Warfield, director of business development at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

A successful lateral integration will facilitate a stronger fit with the firm and more cross-selling, ultimately leading to more revenue, she told the Future Leaders Shared Interest Group on March 21, 2017.

Warfield says there are three main points legal marketers should follow when entering a lateral integration process: know your firm, stick to deadlines, and follow the plan.

Knowing Your Firm

In a nutshell, this means understanding the different practices and what differentiates the firm from its competitors. This means if you work in the tax practice, you should also understand what the public policy group does.

Warfield admits this isn’t the easiest thing to do, but you don’t want to be in a situation where you aren’t even sure if your firm has a specific practice.

Moving outside of your box will not only help you expand your view of the firm, but it could pay major dividends in your ability to facilitate cross-selling between practices.

Sticking to Deadlines

According to AmLaw, “Lofty integration plans might be forgotten or shoved aside after a partner’s first few weeks.”

That means the newer marketers must help the attorney stay on track, because it becomes much more difficult to go through your checklist if the partners are left to fend for themselves.

“We know (a lateral) is going to be starting… we need to have his bio and photo taken by then, and if not then, nothing will be on the website,” Warfield says, citing a common example of the most basic parts of onboarding that must be managed properly.

Another part of adhering to deadlines: Creating realistic ones, Warfield says. 

Following the Plan

Lateral integration plans come in different shapes and sizes, but it is important to have one you can follow faithfully.

Warfield uses a long checklist, but she acknowledges it’s not a one-size-fits-all format. Consider where the lateral came from. Whether they come from the government, a private firm, or in-house can shape the support they need.

For example, Warfield says government attorneys often don’t come with a huge book of business to set up so marketers may need to work on creating business development plans, while a lateral coming from another firm many need to get in touch with their clients and figure out how to bill them right away.

Ultimately, Warfield says newer marketers should stay the course and not get caught up in the the need to find laterals or create a fully formed checklists since those resources likely already exist.

“Your job is to execute on the task list when it’s developed,” she says. “A great future goal will be to develop a task list for a future lateral.”

By Scott Pacheco, Communications Specialist, Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chtd., for the March/April 2017 issue of Capital Ideas.

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