Friday, July 28, 2017
Law firm fills "skills gap" left by law schools by sending summer associates to "business boot camp"
This story from the Pennsylvania based The Legal Intelligencer discusses a program implemented by the firm Montgomery McCracken to fill a "skills gap" left by law schools in training students how to develop new business and cross-sell the firm's other services. Several years ago, the legal press reported on a few white-shoe Wall Street law firms that were sending their associates to business school to better service clients by helping these associates understand the business perspectives of their clients through training in finance, economics and other basic business courses (here, here and here). But this new program seems to have a slightly different focus, i.e. helping new lawyers developing the skills needed to develop a book of business for their firm. The Legal Intelligencer explains further:
Mara Smith, an aspiring lawyer who just took the bar exam, said her summer associate experience set her apart from classmates. But it wasn't the legal work that did so.
"Everybody at every law school knows how to write a memo, knows how to do basic research, knows how to file a motion," said Smith, a graduate of Drexel University's Thomas R. Kline School of Law. "It's that exposure to the business development portion of it that I think shocks a lot of people when they get into firms."
Smith was part of the first class of summer associates at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads to complete a business development project, where they learn how to reach new clients and cross-sell their firm's services. The program was in its second year this summer.
The firm wanted a way to impress upon young lawyers the importance of business development and networking, said Michael Epstein, chair of its hiring committee, and "the sooner, the better." The marketing department and librarians played a major role in shaping the program, he said.
Each summer associate is assigned to a potential client to research thoroughly—their business model, leadership, outside counsel, prospective legal needs and who at Montgomery McCracken could fulfill those needs.
"At the conclusion of the research, we knew these companies, their litigation histories, deal flow, law firms they were using, key board members, who general counsel were," Epstein said. "It certainly led to follow-up meetings and follow-up discussions internally and externally."
You can read the entire story here.