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Junior lawyers wanted to overhaul traditional firm model

Junior lawyers wanted to overhaul traditional firm model

A CONSTRUCTION LAW firm in San Diego is hiring new associates with a unique requirement for the legal profession — a sales background. Borrowing heavily from the corporate world, the new…

A CONSTRUCTION LAW firm in San Diego is hiring new associates with a unique requirement for the legal profession — a sales background.

Borrowing heavily from the corporate world, the new role is a modern take on a traditionally cautious methodology on who should bring in new business within a law firm.

Scholefield Associates PC, the US-based construction litigation firm, is looking for associate attorneys of client development who, the firm’s job advertisements claim, will see themselves more as rainmakers than litigators.

The new model overhauls the traditional law firm model in which partners do the rainmaking, bringing in new clients, while associates litigate and deal with paperwork and the practice of law. The firm compares the job function to engineering, where engineers themselves solve a problem.

“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,” said lead attorney Pam Scholefield. Scholefield herself comes from a sales engineer background for the General Electric Co, which may explain the comparison.

“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,” she said this week.

But the lead attorney is unconcerned by the obvious differences with how law firms are normally structured. “We are not your typical law firm,” said Scholefield. “So we’re not going to follow archaic unwritten rules that say a young attorney’s primary role can’t be a rainmaker.”

Scholefield says the firm is actively seeking a new associate, and the ideal job candidate would be someone with a professional sales background who prefers establishing a rapport with potential clients rather than doing heavy legal research and writing. Potential candidates will have experience in technical sales, sales engineering, legal marketing, or executive level business development, the firm says.

Scholefield’s firm is now advertising for lawyers to work under the direction of the firm’s business development manager, and to be a key player in its client development and legal marketing activities.

Some larger firms globally have legal marketing departments, which don’t usually employ practicing lawyers. It is rare for a firm of any size to dedicate a new lawyer to the role of bringing in new business, and instead they work under a lead partner who hands work over to them. However, firms welcome those junior lawyers who can bring in new clients as part of their day-to-day work. For many smaller firms, it is unfeasible to dedicate lawyers to non-billable tasks.

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