Law Firm Innovators 2023: Dayna Finkelstein
Blank Rome partner Dayna C. Finkelstein was recently recognized in The Legal Intelligencer’s 2023 Pennsylvania Professional Excellence Awards in the Law Firm Innovators category. Below is an excerpt from her honoree profile.
Dayna Finkelstein, Blank Rome
BR Next, Blank Rome’s flagship business development education program, is an innovative approach to training senior associate attorneys to develop business and build client relationships. This program was the brainchild of real estate partner Finkelstein, who aimed to provide structured training to the firm’s next generations of business developers via targeted mentorship in seminar-style forums. BR Next was first presented in December 2020 in Blank Rome’s annual Innovation Challenge, where it was the winning idea in the “Partner” category. Two years later, in 2022, a pilot was implemented with 17 senior associates and various senior partners from the firm’s business department. Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from associates and partners alike, the program will be rolled out in 2023 to senior associates in the firm’s litigation department.
Necessity is the mother of invention. What need was your firm inspired to address with your innovation?
BR Next was born from a combination of my two passions: building client relationships and teaching the next generation of lawyers (a skill I honed as an adjunct professor). I’ve spent my entire career at Blank Rome (from being on staff, to a summer associate, associate, and now partner). Having gone through the process, I felt the need to more formally support the transition period between senior associate and partner, specifically in the area of business development, since this often only comes into more focus as a partner.
We wanted to create more transparency around the firm’s administrative systems (an understanding of which is necessary to bring in a new matter), and we wanted to give associates more of a window into how client relationships are built and maintained, and what seasoned attorneys experience at each stage. We sought to change common negative stereotypes around business development: from this being scary, unrealistic and unattainable, to it being rewarding, fun and achievable in a variety of ways. We made efforts throughout to emphasize that there is no “one size fits all” methodology.
Following 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, we also wanted to rebuild internal relationships: across senior associate classes, across firm offices, and also between senior partners and associates, giving associates more exposure to experienced firm leaders who they might not otherwise encounter in their own day-to-day practice. Finally, we saw a need to build associate confidence in this area. We created a forum where common fears and challenges could candidly be discussed across generations.
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"Law Firm Innovators 2023: Dayna Finkelstein," was published in The Legal Intelligencer on July 5, 2023.