Marvin Mitchelson, the famed Hollywood divorce lawyer, had an office that stood out.
From his office-length window across from the Los Angeles Country Club, he could see the hustle headed toward Rodeo Drive. He adorned his space with antique furniture and ornaments that rivaled Hearst Castle -- a reproduction of Botticelli's Venus hung over his desk.
But that's not really what we're talking about when it comes to having a law office that stands out. We're talking more about attracting new lawyers to join your firm.
There are at least a dozen ways to make your firm stand out to prospective associates: offer flexible work; have progressive leave policies; provide more benefits. But we're going to go with some less oblivious attractions:
To attract new lawyers, it starts with the first interview. That prospective hire is learning about you as much as you are learning about him or her.
They want a job but they also want to contribute to the firm, so it is a good idea to listen to their ideas. Ask them:
Open communication will engender trust and loyalty, qualities that don't often show up on a resume.
In any good relationship, the parties expect transparency. It is the next step in cultivating a long-term relationship.
"Associates want to know where they stand and what it takes to advance, so firms must be open and honest," says Darin Morgan for BigLaw Business.
It's not just about defining the paths to partnership, it's about letting lawyers know how they are doing through real dialogue. Allen & Overy, a Lond-based firm, is doing it without performance reviews.
With 2,800 lawyers around the world, the law firm says the approach is working. "The feedback on this has been positive, particularly in engaging with female associates on their career development," said Elizabeth Mercer, the firm's public relations manager.
Be a Leader
Like looking at a newborn, it's sometimes hard to tell where that newly-minted lawyer will go in the profession. But it is the firm's opportunity to help that associate develop; it is also the key to keeping them engaged.
"Law firms suffer from notoriously busy revolving doors," Fortune magazine reported.
That's often because lawyers make lousy leaders and may drive others away. A bad boss is often the cause of early defection in any business.
To attract the best, law firm leaders need to be the best -- and not necessarily the best in the class or the biggest hitter. The best leaders cultivate cultures where everybody thrives, and should be able to showcase that to any candidate who walks through the office door.
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