In an effort to remain competitive by providing new forms of services to their client bases, law firms and high tech companies are now presenting sophisticated training programs to some of their clients. This is an explicit effort of their behalves to learn more about their clients’ businesses as well as building potentially new revenues. There are valuable perhaps profitable lessons to be learned here for other competitors in their respective markets. Two very similar-themed reports about this emerging trend appeared in the business press during the past two days. I highly recommend a click-through and full read of both of them.
First, The Wall Street Journal carried a report on Monday, September 15, 2014 entitled Law Firm, Chase Bank Join Forces on Trainee Program by Jennifer Smith. (A subscription is required for the full text.) To briefly summarize it, the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius is increasing their use of “secondments” whereby an associate attorney is assigned to work in the legal department of a client for a set period of time. Law firms have engaged in this practice for number of years.
The latest innovation that Morgan, Lewis has added to this is that firm has joined with J.P.Morgan Chase, one of their clients, to assist in the training of several of the bank’s own new in-house lawyers. In effect, Chase’s new lawyers are given the same training that the law firm’s own new associates receive. Following two year’s experience at the bank, these lawyers then move over to the law firm full-time with third-year associate status. Once there, some of their assignments will still involve the bank.
Second, the next day, yesterday on September 16th, The New York Times published an article entitled Google Lends a Helping Hand to Madison Ave. on Digital Proficiency by Stuart Elliot on a somewhat similar program recently launched by Google with some of its key clients in Britain and the US. To quickly sum it up, this program does not involve the reassignment of staff members, but rather, Google is providing in-depth training for advertizing and new media companies to make the best use of the latest digital tools. They are calling this new initiative “Squared”, a reference to an exponential increase in power.
Other participating presenters include employees of Buzzfeed, Twitter, and other experts from the ad and media companies. Thus far, more than 300 employees of five companies named in the article have attended these sessions. The full text of this article provides all of the interesting details about Square’s syllabus and the nature of the presentations.
Simply stated, both the teachers and students in these competitive relationships stand to benefit and prosper from it. In the fast-changing world of e-commerce and online advertising, Square likewise permits an extensible and symbiotic relationship where competitors are helping each other to compete.
In both these stories, the additional benefits I foresee from these types of programs include:
- Other industries seeing the merits in such programs and following their leads. Perhaps service industries accounting and management consulting could develop analogs.
- The emergence of new businesses and career paths might develop to further facilitate and enhance such efforts.
- The creation of additional paid internships, again on both sides of the relationship, to identify the best new talent in an industry.
- The programs might prove to be scalable and thus involve increasing numbers of employees on both sides of these arrangements.
- The possible granting of additional tax benefits or other financial incentives to further promote these these programs as a investment in increasing competition and any resulting revenue streams.