Cordell Parvin Blog

Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers

What You Want to Be

Posted in Career Development

Short blog post today on self reflection and dealing with difficult times.

I read a David Brooks New York Times column published last week: The Moral Bucket List and I just want to make sure you see it.

In the column he talks about the person I know that I would like to be. I think about that more at this time in my life than the many years I spent focused on becoming a successful lawyer. Here is the opening paragraph:

ABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

David Brooks says those people are not born that way they are made. Think about what you and I can do to make ourselves more that way. Many of us wanted to become lawyers because we wanted to serve people who need our help.

In the column Brooks describes “The Call within the Call.” What is your “Call within the Call?” Are you doing anything about it?

His final paragraph begins with:

The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be…

Please read the rest of the last paragraph and think about what simple things in life you are grateful for and put his new book: The Road to Character on your reading list. It will be the next book read by my book club.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 7.01.37 AM

I also want to write as a Virginia Tech grad. Yesterday, April 16 was the 8th anniversary of the mass shooting on the Virginia Tech campus. I saw a couple of things on Facebook yesterday morning and it changed my whole mood. I had been very upbeat about presenting to a large group, but all of a sudden I was sad.

I went to Youtube and searched for Nikki Giovanni. I needed her words of reassurance. A great writer and speaker is able to pick the right words, deliver them in the right cadence and move people. Professor Giovanni’s 3 minute speech accomplished all of that and more.

Do you have 3 minutes? If so watch it.

5 things your firm can do to be more successful

Posted in Client Development, Law Firm Leadership

Greetings from Boca Raton where I am speaking today to construction lawyers.

Let’s get right to the point: Law firms cannot control the economy and many other things, but there are things totally within a law firm’s control. Here are 5:

Industries law firms represent

  1. Hire highly motivated lawyers and  staff and make a greater effort than your competitors to teach, train, mentor and coach them.
  2. Make sure every lawyer and staff member knows the firm vision and clearly knows what is required of him or her.
  3. Raise the level of client satisfaction by finding out what clients want to exceeding those expectations and then compensating in part based on client satisfaction.
  4. Create Industry teams.
  5. Collaborate and build a team approach and compensate based on teamwork. Must reading is recent Harvard Study: Law Firm Collaboration Pays Off. You will also find this valuable: Managers Can Motivate Employees With One Word

Traditions: Call Me Old Fashioned

Posted in Uncategorized

Call me old fashioned, or maybe just nostalgic. I cherish traditions. Does your city have any? Does your law firm have any?

I grew up in Lombard, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. Lombard is the Lilac Village and each year has a Lilac Festival and a Queen and her Court each year. I saw on the link that it is May 2-17 this year.

I am speaking at an event in Chicago on May 14, so I may just have to take a few hours and walk through Lilacia Park during the festival.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 11.03.40 AM


Last week I wrote about my upcoming trip to Montreal. Because the American Airlines non-stop flight lands at almost midnight, I flew up on Saturday night and I was there on Sunday, the last day the Quebec Region’s Sugaring Off Maple Syrup Festival.

Most of the Sugar Shacks are outside of Montreal, but the City has created its own version where they invite top Montreal chefs to create unique dishes, all with some amount of Maple Syrup.

Montreal lawyer Ayse Dali and her family took a good part of their Sunday to take me to the  Old Montreal: Back at the Sugar Shack. For me it was a once in a lifetime unique and wonderful experience.

Sugar Shack

As you know, Nancy and I recently moved to Prosper, Texas. It is a small town well known for its Christmas Festival. A few years ago, Nancy and I attended the annual Waimea Christmas Parade on the Big Island of Hawaii. Even though we were visiting, we felt we were a part of the community.


My old law firm had a tradition. It wasn’t a big one, but it was an important one. Every Friday we had the “All Attorneys’ Lunch” on our 37th floor.

This was an opportunity for us to spend time with our colleagues from different floors and practice groups. Since there were about 200 lawyers in Dallas on 8-9 different floors, leaders thought this tradition was an important one.

I visited my old firm (now part of a larger firm) last year and was pleased to learn that the Dallas lawyers still eat lunch together on Fridays.

What are the traditions in your home town or your law firm? If you have an extra minute, please share them by commenting here.




Client Development: Why Narrow Your Focus

Posted in Client Development

This week I will make a presentation at the American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry Annual Meeting. My Topic: Professionalism and Client Development for Construction Lawyers – Old Tools/New Tools.

As I prepared, I thought about how fortunate I was to  narrow my client development focus long ago.

If you are a regular reader, you likely recall me saying:

When you try to market your services to everyone you usually end up marketing to no one.

I know because when I started my client development efforts, I could not figure out how to market a “general commercial litigation practice.” I tried many cases and enjoyed that opportunity, but I couldn’t figure out how to strategically use my client development time.

I joined the Rotary Club, I was active in our church and active in the Virginia Tech Hokie Club and Alumni Association. I went to lunch every day at the Shenandoah Club where Roanoke’s top business people gathered.

I was told to just stick with it and I would eventually break through. I did stick with it, but I  do not remember ever attracting a new client from my flurry of non-strategic activities.

After a few very frustrating years, I decided to focus my efforts on the construction industry, and within a year I narrowed that focus to transportation construction contractors.

Bridge Under Construction

Here is what I learned and can share with you: When you focus your client development efforts within an industry, you build relationships more easily and efficiently. You see the same people at your industry’s annual meetings. You write columns for industry magazines that those same people read. You speak at industry conferences to the same people.

One final thing: If your experience is anything like mine, you will look forward to the opportunities to engage potential clients and referral sources at the next event and you will make friends for life.

Marketing For Young Lawyers: You Have to be Visible and Credible

Posted in Client Development

On Monday I will be in one of my most favorite cities in North America: Montreal. As the website link puts it:

Few cities can compete with Montréal’s mouthwatering mix of food, festivals and fun-centric living.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 4.17.40 PM

I will be able to enjoy my favorite Montreal Bagels (check the article for the difference between New York Bagels and Montreal Bagels) and I will likely eat Cassoulet Toulousain (recipe) at Alexandre et fils.

As wonderful as that will be, my greatest joy will be making  two presentations to a law firm’s Montreal associates.

The first will be for the junior level associates and I will focus on what they can be doing now to build momentum that will start showing results when they are eligible for partner. The second will be for the firm’s senior associates and will cover both building their profile and their relationships.

As I prepared this week, I had a coaching call with a senior associate. He sent me his agenda for a coaching call. Here is what he said:

For today’s coaching call, I would like to discuss how to develop a particular client base. The problem is I am a younger lawyer and need to find a way to gain an audience / get my foot in the door.

This is a question many of you likely have asked.

Many years ago I heard networking guru,  Ivan Misner,  talk about the VCP Process™ of networking. VCP stands for Visibility, which leads to Credibility and eventually Profitability. Take a look at this 2003 article: Build Relationships That Last to get the idea.

I looked back at my career and found I had created visibility and credibility at the same time by writing and speaking on subjects the construction industry greatly valued. That did not lead right away to profitability. Instead it led to the opportunity to become trustworthy and likable in the eyes of my potential clients.

I had friends in the construction industry long before they were clients. In fact, their fathers ran the companies and already had their own favorite lawyers. How in the world, could I possibly unseat the lawyers who had long standing relationships with contractors who were my father’s age?

As a young lawyer, my best chance to “get my foot in the door” was to become an expert on a subject that was important to the contractors, and on which the generalist lawyers were not experts.

I wrote a law review article on highway construction contract claims. When I wrote it, I did not expect potential construction clients to actually read it. I just wanted them to know I had written it.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 4.16.51 PMA few months later,  I made a presentation on highway construction contract claims at an annual contractor meeting. That led to articles and a presentation to a national highway and transportation construction association. That led to many more presentations.

All of a sudden, I was able to convert these friends to clients, because I had become credible in their fathers’ eyes. Think about a subject you can write on or speak on that will demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

I did it and I know you can also. On April 29 at 12 Noon EDT, I will be offering a Webinar titled: Writing and Speaking to Get Hired. If you are interested in participating, the cost is only $95 and if your firm wants a conference room of lawyers to participate the cost is $195 Contract to find out more and register.

Making Rain: Serving Rather Than Selling

Posted in Client Development

Scott Funk is a Gray Reed & McGraw shareholder from Houston. One of the primary things Scott learned when I worked with him eight years ago was the importance of asking friends good questions, even if the friend was happy with his outside counsel.

Scott shared this story that I have told to the many lawyers I coached after him. I want to make sure you get a chance to read about it.

One of my long time friends owns an oilfield equipment and service company that primarily operates and sells in the U.S., and has operations in India and China. Based on our conversations, I knew my friend was happy with his existing corporate attorney. But I could also tell my friend was looking for something more.

Before our coaching, I would have tried to “sell” him on hiring our firm and why we were the right firm for him, and probably tried to convince him to use LRM instead of his existing attorney.

Based on what I learned in the coaching program, I first set out to find out more about my friend and his company. I learned more about his background, and more about his company operations and opportunities in China and India. He let me know he wanted to expand his company by acquiring a Canadian company. When he said he was hiring a New York firm to help obtain financing for a $1,000,000 fee, I asked him to give me 30 days to help him find financing at a lower cost.

In the next 30 days I introduced my friend to consultants, several bankers, an investment banker, and a private equity firm. He let me know he was extremely thankful and impressed. While he said that he liked his attorney, he was impressed that we went far beyond just focusing on the legal work.

After he got the financing for the acquisition, our firm became his law firm.

I don’t think I would have obtained this client before coaching program because I would have tried to talk instead of listening, and I would have tried to sell our firm rather than demonstrating how we can add value.

So, what is the point of Scott’s story?

It is really pretty simple. When you go from thinking about how you can get hired to thinking about how you can add value without expecting anything in return, good things happen.

Scott asked questions, listened and uncovered a need where his firm could add value.


Top 10 Indicators Client Development Coaching is Not for You

Posted in Client Development, Client Development Coaching

As you may know I began coaching lawyers on client development long ago when I was still practicing law. I have coached, mentored and taught younger lawyers my entire career. I have even coached lawyers who are older than I am.

Some lawyers have gotten a lot out of the coaching and others not so much. I simply cannot motivate the unmotivated. Based on my experience working with many, many lawyers, I have come up with these leading indicators for you to determine whether client development coaching is not for you:

  1. Busman thinking.jpgYou prefer to work on matters for other lawyers’ clients
  2. You are content with where you are in your career and life
  3. You believe there is nothing left for you to learn
  4. When you go home at night you frequently ask yourself why you let dad talk you into going to law school
  5. You hate writing, speaking and getting out and meeting new people
  6. You do not want to spend more than your billable time on your career
  7. You spend more time planning your vacation than you do your career
  8. A senior lawyer in your firm told you that you “need” client development coaching
  9. You do not care to learn about your clients’ industry or company
  10. You are not really interested in building personal relationships with your clients


Client Development Coaching: New Opportunity to Work with Me

Posted in Client Development Coaching

Want a chance to work with me for less than $100? Want a chance for the lawyers in your firm to work with me for less than $100?

I have a new opportunity to share with you. A few years ago I created a Client Development Video Coaching Program titled: Client Development Series: Securing, Retaining and Expanding Relationships with Your Clients. It is three hours of video with 7 Modules.

If you want to get an idea of what I teach, go to the link above and you can watch Module 1 at no charge. When you finish print the SRE Participant’s Guide Intro Mod 1 and if you are interested, do the assignment at the end of the workbook.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 11.43.44 AM

How will this new opportunity work? Every seven weeks, I will start a new class. The best way for you to get the most out of our work together is to watch a module each week, complete the workbook assignment and email your assignment to me with any questions you have. I will respond giving you my feedback on your assignment and I will answer any questions you have.

The cost is only $95 for all seven sessions. If you want to be part of the first group, contact Joyce and sign up for the first class starting on April 20.

Client Development Coaching Webinar

Posted in Client Development Coaching

I recently wrote: TOP SECRET: Why Client Development Coaching Works. Now, I want to share with you HOW to make it work most effectively and get the greatest return on your investment.

Coaching SS 104979254

I want to share with you what I have learned over the last 10 years and when I was busy practicing law.  Join me on May 11, at 12 noon central time. The charge is only $95 and you are welcome to cram as many people as you want into a conference room to watch and listen. We have space for 20 lawyers or conference rooms so it is first come first served.

Contact Joyce at to sign up.

What would your law firm be like if it was led by Coach K?

Posted in Law as a Business, Law Firm Leadership

Noting that once again Duke is in the Final Four, I thought it might be valuable for you to re-read this blog that I first posted in 2012.

Before we get to Coach K, I want to share that I have become a big Gonzaga basketball fan. I like Coach Few and I like how they play as a team. You might enjoy reading: Gonzaga falls five minutes short of Final Four greatness. I agree with the Seattle Times writer who said:

This run was not the surprise journey of a Cinderella. It was the culmination of a difficult process to add glory to an established program.

In the article, Coach K is quoted:

“This is a magical moment for us,” Krzyzewski said, “but we played a magical team in Gonzaga.”

If you watched Gonzaga through the tournament, I think you will agree that the Zags are a magical team in part because how unselfish they are. It is one for all and all for one.

So, let’s turn to what I wrote in 2012.

When I practiced law, my firm included many very talented entrepreneurial lawyers. Our lawyers were extremely successful on their own, but did not collaborate and work as well as a team. Our firm leaders tried, but were unable to change the silo culture at the firm. Perhaps you have the same issue in your firm. You have likely heard the phrase:

Leading lawyers is like herding cats.

Can leading star NBA basketball players be any different? Certainly their egos are as big as any lawyer’s ego.

As you likely know, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will once again coach the 2012 Olympic basketball team. The team was recently finalized and does not include three stars from the 2008 Redeem Team.

I read how the team will be different than the 2008 team in a CBS report: Coach K: 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team could be better than 2008 squad.  I hope they can be better. But, one thing is certain: They will play as a team, much like the 2008 Redeem Team rather than playing as a group of talented losers, like the 2004 team.

What was the primary difference in those two teams? The 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team included just as much talent, but took a third-place bronze medal because they had a “me first” attitude, and were less focused on the basics than the Argentine and Italian teams.

One could easily argue that the major difference was Coach K. He was able to get the 2008 U. S. Olympic team back to basics and teamwork. They approached their task as a team instead of a group of talented individuals. Coach K spent three years molding “The Redeem Team.”

When they won a hard fought final game against Spain, the entire team showed up for the press conference. Coach K had built a relationship with the players that not only caused them to win for him, but, more importantly also caused them to want to win for each other.

I read once that the biggest difference between business school and law school is that in business school students are taught to collaborate with one another and in law school students are taught to compete with one another. Your law firm will be more successful if you are able to create an environment that causes your lawyers to want to win for each other.

This may be easy to say, but hard to implement. If you want ideas, read Coach K’s book: The Gold Standard, or Building a World-Class Team from Success magazine that includes this Coach K quote from the book:

People want a recipe. Recipes guarantee that if you follow these steps in this order, you will get a favorable outcome. But team building is not about a recipe, it’s about taking the necessary time to build this team for this purpose.

You might also read his blog titled: Coach K, USA Basketball Moving to New Levels Together. In it he talks about the importance of collective responsibility. I like that concept. When your lawyers feel collectively responsible for your firm’s success, they will more likely want to win for each other. He says:

We didn’t have rules for the team,” he said, “we had standards. The players took personal responsibility to the uniform and to each other. There was a standard for how to act in public, for how to practice, for how to compete. We didn’t lie to each other, we showed up on time and we didn’t have excuses. It was a collective responsibility.

Are you taking the necessary time to build a world class team in your law firm?