How to Support – and Benefit From – New Leadership at Your Firm

By Gina Eliadis, director of marketing and business development at Goodell DeVries

When your firm elects new leadership – a new managing partner, practice chair, or even a chair of an internal committee – there are opportunities for the marketing and business development team to capitalize on that change. A new leader almost always brings new ideas and a new strategic vision. How can you best position your team to help shape and support that vision?

Here are four main steps you can take to ensure a smoother, more productive leadership transition at your firm.

  1. Listen and communicate. It’s critical to have a conversation with the incoming leader as soon as possible.
    • Understand her priorities for the group she will now lead.
    • Probe her views of the challenges and opportunities she sees confronting her lawyers.
    • Be prepared to answer her questions on everything from the group’s marketing budget to the firm’s pitch process.
    • Demonstrate that the marketing and business development team will serve as a partner in helping to grow and sustain her group’s success.
  2. Develop a plan to support the new leadership. As you develop your understanding of the leader’s vision, devise a plan for how you will provide support.
    • Does the group need a strategic plan?
    • How can you best steer the leader toward the most productive priorities?
    • What new marketing and business development approaches will you recommend?
    • A new leader is often looking for ideas – and help. Position yourself as a strong resource for both.
  3. ABM (Always Be Marketing). Of course, new leadership is also a built-in branding opportunity for the firm, as it necessitates a number of communications:
    • Press releases
    • Client communications
    • Social media posts
    • Media interviews (if necessary)
  4. Learn and grow through the transition. Working with a new leader to transition into her role and strategize for her group also can be a learning opportunity for you. Consider whether elements of this newly established working relationship can be useful to you elsewhere in the firm.
    • Are there other groups that could benefit from the strategic planning process you developed?
    • Did you need to change the ways in which you pitch ideas?
    • Have new cross-selling opportunities come to light?

Leadership changes at any level in a law firm signal shifts in firm dynamics, even if those shifts are subtle. Use these times of transition to inform your understanding of the firm’s growth and direction, and to position yourself as an influencer on its continued success.

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