It’s Time To Teach Marketing & Sales In Law School

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Business Development/Sales, Training in Client Service and Business Development/Sal 10 Comments

It's Time To Teach Marketing & Business Development In Law SchoolBentley Tolk, well-known lawyer and legal marketing expert, wrote an article on his blog last night titled Will Law School Ever Teach Marketing For Law Firms?

In his comments section, I shared my thoughts with Bentley that yes, marketing and sales/business development should definitely be taught, and that another legal marketer, Nancy Roberts Linder, has written and taught marketing in law schools.

Marketing and business development instruction should be part of law school. These skills are critical in the early stages of one’s career, but to expect that new lawyers should then just “get it” right out of law school is not the entire solution.

For example, as part of my business major in college, I had to choose 3 minor areas of emphasis. They were management, marketing and insurance. As you might expect, I had wonderful instruction in each.

My career started in sales, for which I am eternally grateful because I now know how to blend and teach the skills of sales/business development and marketing, and how they work together.

I was nowhere near prepared to sell when I got out of college. I’m sure I would have done “okay,” but not until I had extensive, continuous, on-the-job sales training did I truly engage and understand what I needed to do. Sales, or business development as we are still tempted to call it in the legal profession, needs to be taught at every level, in law school, to new Associates, and even through to Partnership depending on the skill level achieved.

Likewise, my marketing education in school gave me a foundation to understand marketing, but not until I joined Time Warner and was around bosses, colleagues and a corporate culture that focused on marketing did I learn how to operate a marketing department. All that to say that yes, we must incorporate and introduce marketing, business and business development in law school, but no one can expect their lawyers to be taken care of and ready because they’ve had this instruction.

Firms must still commit time, dollars and other resources relentlessly to help attorneys become successful in these critical areas if they are to protect and grow their valuable firms they have worked so hard to build.

I look forward to your comments as well.


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Comments 10

  1. Nice post, Nancy, and I firmly agree. Marketing is about people relations, and knowing how to effectively market our brand has become essential for any trade. It’s always refreshing to see a firm actively engaged with its demographic on social media and through other outlets.

  2. joshhumble Thanks Josh! Yes, I love seeing a firm, as well as many of its professionals, actively engaged in social and actual networking, too. None of us have it down to a science as it’s too new, but working hard to be in the game, and figuring it out, is what is important. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Love it. Im tempted to suggest that you can substitute the words law school with Medical school. The same issues exist in that genre. Well done Nancy. Al.

  4. Hi Al….thank you. I agree about med school, and just about any other school, too. Skills must be introduced and taught there, but they will die if they aren’t continued once on the job.

  5. AlLautenslagerHi Al….thank you. I agree…law school, med school, and just about any other school, too. Skills must be introduced and taught there, but they will die if they aren’t continued once on the job, and revisited often.

  6. An interesting opportunity for law schools that do offer marketing curriculum would be to also offer legal marketing certificates for marketers.

  7. That would be VERY interesting, Bill! I’m not sure I want law schools responsible for our education just yet, but there are legal marketing entities that could tackle it. I’d just like to see law schools give lawyers some of the skills they need first. 🙂

  8. NancyMyrland I know a few people, like yourself, that could teach classes to both.  Perhaps this is a business opportunity, a curriculum for both attorneys and staff, through accredited institutions.

  9. I agree.  Sales is a learned skill.  Since most lawyers end up solo or in small firms, learning to sell is more important than the new “practical skills” requirement at some schools.

  10. I am a 20 plus attorney with 10 years as a big firm associate.  I wholeheartedly agree that it is absolutely necessary for law schools to start teaching sales and marketing.  Sales is a learned skill.  There are no “born salesmen” regardless of that old yarn.  Since most lawyers end up solo or in small firms, learning to sell is more important than the new “practical skills” requirement at some schools.  It is a huge business opportunity that should be seized upon by attorneys who have worked selling outside law as well as to clients.  The landscape has changed with legal zoom, rocket lawyer, and free forms on the internet as well as the well known glut of lawyers.  Big lawyer firms ate themselves from the inside by creating a hostile, dog eat dog environment which pitted firm lawyers against one another.  That is a suicidal way to run a customer service business.  Like a columnist pointed out, no other field has an entire separate industry dedicated to helping people quit and get into new careers.  I doubt any of the top 10 will adopt sales and marketing classes- after all, the T-14 schools do not teach you the practical information you need to pass the bar just arcane and really useless (90% of the time) things like how to determine legislative intent.  I agree with Dickens, “the law is an ass.” (Oliver Twist).  The law has become for most, a dead end career; most garbage men, almost all police and fire, make more than associates at smaller firms without six figure debt even in low risk crime free suburbs.  Student loan reform is a GIVEN.  There is no choice if we want to jumnpstart the economy with the millenials.  Good article.

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