San Diego construction law firm Scholefield Associates, P.C., is hiring new associates with a unique requirement -- a sales background. The firm says it is is borrowing heavily from the corporate world where the role of technical sales is fundamental to most successful business plans.
The 3-lawyer firm is molding their “sales attorney” role to be very similar to that of the typical sales engineer. Both positions require individuals with specialized training to understand the clients’ needs.
“I see no difference in comparing our role as an attorney to that of an engineer solving a problem,” said Lead attorney Pam Scholefield. “The job function is to offer a results-oriented service that the client needs or wants. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal advice or some sort of technical solution.”
"It is almost unheard of that a firm of any size would dedicate a new attorney to the role of bringing in new business. Most small firms feel they cannot justify allocating manpower to non-billable tasks," said spokesman Bryan Weaver.
Scholefield herself was once a sales engineer for the General Electric Co., eventually becoming an Area Manager in Southern California. She even holds a Professional Engineer’s (PE) license from Colorado. “Today, my clients are builders, architects, engineers, contractors, and equipment suppliers, these are the same types of clients I had when I was a sales engineer,” says Scholefield.
A visit to the Careers page of the firm website reveals an opening for:
- This is an unprecedented opportunity for the right individual with an outgoing and dynamic personality. If you see yourself more as a rainmaker than you do a litigator, we are interested in your future with us.
- You will be working under the direction of the firm's business development manager, and be a key player in the firm’s client development and legal marketing activities.
- We are looking for professionals with experience technical sales, sales engineering, legal marketing, or executive level business development.
- Previous experience or knowledge of the construction industry is a major plus.
- You will be the first point of contact for prospective clients, so a good first impression is important.
- You will not let your law school education go to waste as you must be admitted to practice in California, and may be expected to advise clients and attend hearings.
Interestingly, new research by Suzanne Lowe of Expertise Marketing, reveals that among professional service firms, 86% of respondents want their firm to hire fee-earners who want to market and sell, 51% have made formal efforts to hire fee-earners who want to market and sell.
Suzanne writes, "First, it’s a challenge to find the right set of marketing and business development capabilities, especially if the firm has yet to define them for itself! A firm’s recruiters and hiring staffers need standards to objectively evaluate marketing and business development skills. They can’t be expected to conjure them up in a vacuum. This viewpoint repeats a theme that, by now, rings loudly through this entire survey: there are widely varying definitions of marketing and business development, and a general lack of understanding of the value these functions could deliver in a PSF."
Meanwhile, Scholefield Associates, P.C., isn't waiting. “We are not your typical law firm,” notes Scholefield, “so we’re not going to follow archaic unwritten rules that say a young attorney’s primary role can’t be a rainmaker.”