Enter the Den

Since joining Pinsent Masons I have been surprised by the degree of client contact and the number of business development opportunities that Trainees are been encouraged to take part in.  So when I was given the chance to combine business development with one of my favourite TV shows – ‘Dragons’ Den’- there was only one response I could give… “I’m In!”

For the last few years, the Partners in the firm’s Manchester office have set aside a sum of money to allocate to alternative marketing events.  This year there was a bit of twist, with the idea of teams ‘pitching’ to Partners for monies to run their own business development events, which would promote relationships between Pinsent Masons and existing or potential clients.

Each team had complete control over the content of the event (sporting, educational, social or a mixture of these) and was required to plan how much budget would be needed; who would be invited and which departments would be involved.  We then had to pitch our ideas for 10 minutes to 4 Dragons (a panel of 4 Partners, who thankfully were less like Duncan Bannatyne than I had imagined they would be).  I was somewhat nervous when making my presentation as I was the only trainee in the office to pitch an idea, but once we got underway it went really well. 

My team’s idea was an interactive pub quiz and treasure hunt around some of Manchester’s finest establishments; the team was made up of myself, a Solicitor and an Associate from the Manchester Corporate Team.  After the Dragons had made their deliberations, we were told that they ‘Were In!” and that they had decided to invest for the whole of the monies we had pitched for.  A somewhat unexpected but very welcomed result for all of us involved.

Taking things a stage further…

This experience of getting involved and working with colleagues to organise a business development event got me thinking about whether it could be extended to the vacation scheme students.  We thought it would be a great way to get the students working together and to show off their presenting skills in an informal and fun way to a group of solicitors and trainees.

Last week the first intake of students pitched to us, with ideas ranging from a Wii Sports interactive event to an ‘It’s A Knock-Out Style’ family fun day.  Although taking part was completely optional and did not form part of the formal assessment for training contracts, all the students got involved and enjoyed planning, researching and presenting their ideas.  One student commented that “being asked to take part in the presentations showed me just how important business development is in the life of a commercial lawyer.”

I really enjoyed getting involved with this project and I’m looking forward to planning and organising our treasure hunt around Manchester.  Whenever you get the opportunity to be involved in business development during your training contract I would definitely advise you to “be in” and make “an investment with your time”.