Friday, September 21, 2007

Promoting a Superstar Lateral

Attorneys move from one firm to another for all the regular reasons any professional makes a move -- better money; brighter future; culture; lifestyle, etc. Sometimes though the attorney is an already acknowledged superstar in a market or niche.

Our desire as marketers, in these situations, is to want to use the move as a promotional opportunity -- high profile PR, maybe advertising, definitely announcement cards and maybe even a personalized letter to key clients and influencer's.

Something to keep in mind as you formulate your promotion plan is not only the positive ways to promote, but the negative fallout that may happen when a superstar makes a move. Consider these things:
  • A lot of clients will feel like they are hanging in limbo. Even after the pre-move conflict checks clear the bar some clients may not like your firm for some pre-existing reason. Some clients may have built a loyalty to the old firm as strong as their loyalty to the lateral. And some clients are really put off by change. The thing to consider is to never cause clients of the lateral to feel like they are not single most important consideration in the choice to move.
  • Do not rub the move in the face of competition. Negative campaigns of any fashion or form have more fallout than favor with clients and competitors alike.
  • Do not promote anything until the lateral has talked with every client and key influencer that is important to their future. Nothing builds resentment faster than feeling like "I am always the last to know."
  • Contact with lateral clients has to come from more than just the lateral. Of course the firm managing partner/CEO needs to embrace the client. And think about what other departments in your firm will be interfacing with the client or the client's support team. A introductory phone call can make all the difference.
  • Don't ignore the service community. The printer, accountant, consultant, etc. are equally important. If they have the ear of the client they can influence ultimate choices.
Never take the lateral move of a superstar for granted. Don't let a "big deal" bite you when you're not looking.