Rainmaker: Firm Seeks Sales-Hungry Attorney

Feb 25, 2008
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

The construction-focused law firm Scholefield Associates calls itself an unconventional law firm, due in part to its efforts to break free from “archaic” hiring practices.

The firm is actively seeking a sales-hungry new associate, a rainmaker with a solid sales background, something that borrows from the corporate world.

Unlike at most law firms, where a senior partner would take on the “rainmaker” role, the San Diego-based law firm wants to let its new hire run free to bring in new business, unshackled by billable hours and copious legal writing and research.

In fact, the job description notes that “Unlike a conventional associate position, your job performance will NOT be based on billable hours. You will be measured on your ability to effectively introduce our firm’s services to key clients.”

Lead attorney Pam Scholefield says her firm has no desire to follow “archaic unwritten rules that say a young attorney’s primary role can’t be a rainmaker.”

She explains that the ideal job candidate would be less interested in heavy legal research and writing and more interested in establishing a rapport with potential clients.

“It also helps that they have a good golf game; just ask any successful sales professional,” adds Scholefield.

Striking a Delicate Balance

Sales guru Lee Salz says this idea might work for some firms, but he worries that this method of hiring really means hiring for two separate positions.

“There is a fine line between maintaining a professional posture while at the same time being effective in bringing in new clients. It starts at the beginning. Firms should interview as they would any attorney, and then interview as a sales person,” he says.

“But why would you want someone who is going to do two completely different jobs? Do they want a stellar lawyer who is so-so on the sales, or a stellar sales person who is so-so on the legal side?” asks Salz.

Instead, he says, the firm could opt to hire a polished, senior-level sales person to represent the firm.

However, Bryan Weaver, business development manager at Scholefield Associates, says it comes down to a credibility factor.

“It takes an attorney to have the total credibility factor,” says Weaver. “We’re hoping for someone who is great at schmoozing. We’re envisioning someone like a GE sales person who goes after the business and wines-and-dines to get the business.”

While there is no such position as a “sales attorney,” Weaver says they’re hoping to come close in their search for their newest hire.

“Their job would really not be to dress up and litigate. Their expectation is a sales guy, PR person, as well as being an attorney,” says Weaver.

“Ideally, we want someone with a professional sales background who went to law school, and maybe came to the realization they’re not cut out to crank out briefs. They are personable and can apply what they know,” he says.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.