Nick Augustine, J.D., is the principal of Pro Serve Public Relations, a PR firm serving the law and finance industries. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition based on his experience in law, legal marketing, public relations, and his Secured Solo Practice model. Nick shares career growth strategy and experience with legal job seekers.
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with a colleague, upset that her new client had apparently fallen off the planet. She was supposed to have signed an agreement and started a major project by the end of September. Now mid-October, my friend incorrectly assumed that silence meant no deal – the client had several emergencies and family issues, and finally this week, returned my colleague’s e-mails and are back on track.
Patience is a virtue in seeking and landing clients and jobs. Here are some tips on timing and patience:
- Calendar your contact activity. Create a contact sheet and log all of your communications. Here is a good example of a timeline if you meet someone at a networking event: (1) E-mail a “Nice to Meet You” with contact information and a memory jog, within 24 hours, indicating your intentions. (2) Call or e-mail a request for a meeting, within seven days, to learn more and fish for opportunities. (3) Follow up from a meeting, within three days, on paper (yes, you will make the right impression). (4) Further weekly contact is ok, within 1 month of initial contact.
- Following up periodically is appropriate. You might be one of several people trying to get an answer or attention from a hiring partner. If you have not heard anything after regularly scheduled follow-up activity, then put the person on a 30-day status call list. You might be surprised when you hear something back on day 28. By holding off, you do not come across as annoying or offensive. If a few months go by, and you are still making contact, most people will acknowledge you and give you some direction.
- Never assume the answer is “no” unless you are told. When the hiring partner has a trial next week, their attention is not on hiring a new associate. A partner might need to talk to other members of the firm to determine if there is enough work for a new attorney. Imagine the labyrinth of decisions taking place at a firm who could be your next employer. You should be patient and understand it might take a while to move from meeting someone who likes you and interviewing with them, to receiving an offer (while you compete with other intervening emergencies and priorities). Two or three months could go by and the hiring partner, who wants to bring you on, just can’t, until their schedule opens. If you have kept in contact professionally and appropriately, you will earn respect, and hopefully receive an offer or referral to another.