First Year Associates Can Earn $145,000

SalesmanHere's good news if you are a graduate of Harvard, Yale, Columbia or NYU  law school, and you get an offer to work at a megafirm in Manhattan: you can earn a starting salary of $145,000.  This princely sum is according to the National Association for Law Placement, which adds that in cities other than New York, you'll have to settle for about $10,000 less.

It's great to be a young rich professional, but you'll have to learn something they never taught you in law school: business development.  You went to law school because you never wanted to sell, and now you've been hired to be a billing machine.  To break out of this golden cage you'll have to bring in new files and clients.  Look to the Associate Marketing Mentor blog for business development tips, such as:

  • New business is all about relationships.  Make friends with everyone you meet at  clients, if you ever get a chance to meet them.
  • Don't be arrogant. People need to like you first to give you additional files.  And they need to want to help you develop, especially as a junior lawyer.
  • Find a mentor who is already good at developing business.  Make friends with the person and ask to be taken along for meetings with clients.
  • Realize that business development is simply a learnable skill. And superb business development simply leverages the skills that already make you a superb practicing attorney -- including being organized, working hard, listening, diagnosing client implications and finding solutions.
  • Write your own personal marketing plan. This means deciding what you can do today, this week and this month to start growing your practice. First, market to the clients you already have. Second, develop a systematic plan to contact, nurture and expand your network.

To quote my colleague Michael G. Cummings: The BAD news: business development is no longer optional. The GOOD news ... you can do it!

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