A new year brings new opportunities. For those new to the legal industry it can also bring new and significant challenges. Whether you’ve joined a firm with an established marketing and business development function or are starting from scratch, adapting to law firm culture can be overwhelming. In the excitement of landing a new job, it can be easy to overlook the importance of understanding culture and with so many of us still working from home, it may also seem downright impossible. According to the authors of When You Start a New Job, Pay Attention to These Five Aspects of Company Culture, paying close attention to key dimensions of a firm’s culture can provide new hires with the tools they need to be effective in their role. In this post, we’ll look at two: relationships and communication.
It’s important to understand how your firm cultivates internal relationships. The organizational structure of a law firm is itself unique. “I basically have 90 bosses and on any given day I’m probably working with more than half of them,” said one marketing director. It’s important to understand what’s required to get work done and make decisions. Some lawyers may prefer in person meetings while others stick to email. Depending on your office set up, lawyers may prefer to drop in with little or no notice. And when you’re new, you have to navigate introductions as well. Ask a colleague or a lawyer to facilitate those connections for you.
Understanding how people communicate at your firm can help you start strong. Your lawyers’ assistants can provide some great insight here. Sara Coffey worked in law firms for over a decade before joining ContactEase. When she began working with a lawyer at a new firm, she went straight to the lawyer’s assistant for help. “I knew [the assistant] had a good relationship with the lawyers. Some of my colleagues had experienced difficulty working with her, so I knew it was important to ask for help if I wanted to start off on the right foot,” Coffey said. The assistant advised Coffey to pay attention to how the lawyer signed off in emails, “An exclamation point? You’re good. No exclamation point or no punctuation at all — proceed with caution,” she was told. “Having that insight was really helpful and allowed me to fare better than some of the marketers who preceded me – for a little while at least,” Coffey recalled with a laugh.
Laying the Groundwork for Future Success
It’s important to remember that while you were hired based on for your past performance, your future with your new firm will be impacted by your ability to understand and work within your new firm’s culture. Taking the time to understand these key areas will help ensure your success and allow you to make a lasting and positive impact.
New to legal? The Legal Marketing Association is a great resource for those new to the industry (see regional initiatives from LMANext Southwest and LMANext Canada for more information). With our team of former law firm marketers and IT professionals. ContactEase also understands the unique challenges of working in the legal industry. Questions about your new industry? There’s a good chance we’ve experienced it ourselves or know someone who has. Feel free to contact us anytime!