In last month’s column, we talked about how quality content on your firm’s Careers page can entice recruits as well as show clients an appealing side of your firm that may otherwise be difficult to convey. This kind of content offers a multitude of benefits. Today, we’ll drill down into some examples, and look at ideas on writing for other platforms, such as Medium and LinkedIn.
Small and midsize firms want to say they are different. And they probably are, at least to some extent. The challenge is to show that difference without detailing a laundry list of benefits or factors that sound like everyone else’s list of “we’re different” characteristics.
So how can a firm make this work in real life?
All the Feels
Different doesn’t mean “no one else does this.” It just means “no one does this the way we do it.” And you convey that by focusing on your people. You may do pro bono work or participate in community events, but you’ll likely pick different cases and events than your competitors, and that is an expression of what’s important to you.
New England-based Murtha Cullina is one of many firms that put a firm newsletter or annual report online. But rather than making readers dig for it, they put it right on their Careers page. It’s one way of putting all those “feel good” stories about the firm — pro bono work, company picnic, opening day, community events — all in one place.
Let Current Associates Sell the Firm
In last month’s post, we talked about the strength of an authentic, welcoming message from the firm chair or managing partner. Young Conaway in Delaware takes an alternate approach, and it works just as well. The firm showcases an associate on its Careers page, letting her speak specifically about why she joined the firm.
Other examples of this type of copy are “a day in the life” or “week in the life” of an associate, where a firm can “show, not tell” about what it’s like to work at the firm. This is a great way to share what kinds of assignments associates are given, the committees they participate in, the professional development activities that are available, access to partners for both formal and informal feedback, and even how associates blow off steam midday.
Give Candidates News They Can Use
Candidates are hungry not only for information about your firm but information about job hunting and how to succeed as a young lawyer. If mentoring or sponsorship is important to you and your firm, write a first-person piece on how it has shaped your career, both as a mentor and a mentee. Take a break from writing legal analysis, and write a short article on the value of a growth mindset, or the importance of emotional intelligence, or management transparency. Not all these need to go on your firm’s website. Some are perfect for content-sharing platforms like Medium and LinkedIn, or other professional outlets. Look at this piece on how to make the performance review process better. This shares a tremendous amount about what the authors, and presumably their firms, value.
Get Personal and Put Your Skin in the Game
This isn’t for everyone but, done well, it can make a powerful statement. Write a piece on the first time you lost a client, and what you learned from it. Share how you recovered your working relationship with your supervising partner after over-promising on an assignment. Get really brave and write about how you missed a deadline, the ethical dilemma it presented, and how you handled it with a client. (Hat tip to New York plaintiffs’ lawyer John H. Fisher for that one.)
Write a post on what brought you to yoga, meditation or mindfulness, or why you took time away for a retreat when you realized stress was eating you alive. Share how you made the decision to extend your paternity leave, or the accommodations you made in your career to care for an aging parent or special-needs child. Each of these pieces humanizes you and your firm and is a powerful illustration of what it’s like to work there.
The bottom line here is that this is smart content, all the way around. It communicates authenticity, what you value and makes you a person, not just a vCard. It helps with client development, and it helps with recruiting. And it’s a lot more affordable than executive search fees.
Related: “Using Content as a Lawyer Recruitment Tool, Part 1: Don’t Let Your Careers Page Be an Afterthought” by Susan Kostal
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