Should we offer marketing training to our summer associates?
Yes. But only under certain restrictions.
I’ve been asked to conduct a lot of summer-associate training over the years, but only rarely have I done it exclusively for the summer kids.
Instead, I typically recommend that firms make sure to (1) invite them to any existing associate training, or (2) schedule some regular associate training during the summer so that they can attend.
Now this might sound a little controversial, but your selected trainer works for the firms, not the summer associates. The firm’s focus for summer associate programs should not be to give them the training that will help them succeed in their professional lives.
Rather, the primary goal of the training should be to help them think so well of the firm that they (1) are more likely to accept your job offer if one is forthcoming, and (2) return to school talking excitedly to everyone about what a great firm you are, you improve your on-campus reputation. (This reputation enhancement inures to your benefit in future years when you are seeking to recruit the top young laterals.)
Of course, law school and lateral recruiting has become a heckuva lot easier since 2008 than it was before. But the top candidates are always in demand. And you want them.
Therefore, the programs should be fun, interesting, exciting, challenging, etc.
A summer-associate program is like fraternity rush.
So if you’re interested in having your favorite candidates “pledge your house” at the end of the season, make sure you’ve positioned them to accept your offer (insert dating/marriage metaphor here…). Show them a good time, and that you’re a terrific firm.
The type of law firm marketing training that all associates (summer and regular) can benefit from include topics like networking, working a room techniques, online marketing, creating a LinkedIn profile, Ethics, niche marketing, marketing 101, sales skills, listening skills, internal marketing, and client round-tables.
Of course, there are some wonderful topics that would benefit summer associates exclusively, but most are really personal- or professional-development subjects like interviewing skills, dress for success, writing a persuasive resume, etc. — topics that typically relate to getting a good job.
On the other hand, because they already have a job with your law firm, you don’t necessarily want to help them get an even “better” one….