Cordell Parvin Blog

Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers

Client Development Coaching: My Advice for Senior Associates

Posted in Client Development, Client Development Coaching

I love coaching senior associates. They are open minded and eager to learn.

Several years ago, one year before the big law firm recession in 2008, I coached 15 senior associates. When we began the group had generated around $600,000 of business the year before our work.

Two years later, they generated around $1,800,000, 3 times the first amount.

In this short video I share some ideas I went over with those senior associates. You might also find these slides helpful.


Success: Wake Up and Work Hard

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

This past weekend on Saturday and Sunday we took our third grade pal and neighbor, Claudia to watch the LPGA Volunteers of America Texas Shootout Golf Tournament.

On Saturday we arrived after some of the women had finished their second round and before the women started their third round. We stood and watched several on the putting green. One was Anna Nordqvist. After she finished practicing putting, her caddie handed Claudia a golf ball.

All of a sudden, Claudia became a fan. She wanted to follow Anna.

One of Anna’s playing partners was Christel Boeljon. On one of the holes, her caddie handed Claudia a ball. That gesture made Claudia her fan as well.

On Sunday, lucky for us, Anna and Christel were paired together again. Claudia decided we should follow them around the course. On one hole after she had putted out, Christel came over and sat next to Claudia and talked to her.

At the end of their round, Christel gave Claudia the golf glove she had worn that day and she and Anna signed autographs and allowed us to take photos with Claudia.

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This personal touch by the professional golfers is what makes the LPGA so special. On our way home, Claudia was really excited and said what a great day she experienced.

Years ago I wrote about Anna, who at the time was an LPGA rookie and won the fifth tournament she played. Given our great experience watching her over the weekend I want to share that post again.

Nancy and I played golf yesterday morning. In the afternoon we watched the McDonald’s LPGA Championship.

For those of you who are not fans or did not see the final round, Anna Nordqvist, a rookie playing in only her fifth tournament was the unlikely winner. You might enjoy reading The Washington Post report of her victory.

Nordqvist started the final round with a two stroke lead. She built it to as much as a five stroke lead, and then her playing partner Lindsey Wright birdied 8, 9 and 12.

Nordqvist bogeyed 13 and the lead was cut to one. The TV announcers said: “Game On.” The remarkable thing was that the young rookie did not wilt under the pressure and she won by four strokes.

Wright, who shot a 70, said of Nordqvist:

“It was amazing. Under that amount of pressure, not being in that position before and in a major and being a rookie? You can’t get any better than that.”

When I drafted the blog about Anna, I went to her webpage, which has since changed. I found her quote:

“Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard for it”

What does it mean to wake up and work hard for it as a lawyer?

It means waking up and working each and every day to improve your skills. It means waking up and working hard each and every day to figure out what is going on in the world that may impact your clients. It means waking up and working hard each and every day to add value and exceed your client’s expectations.

Thank you Anna Nordqvist for reminding us all that we are never too young, never too inexperienced to wake up and work hard to be successful. (And, in 2016, thank you and Christel for making a 9 year old a fan for life.)

A Lawyer Asked

Posted in Client Development

A lawyer I coach recently asked:

I have a quick question for you: do you have any blog posts or other guidance on a suggested method for reaching out to people who are contacts of colleagues, but not very close (the kind they met at a conference once), to try to get a meeting or other direct exposure to them?

Great question. Many have touched on that subject in books, articles, blogs.

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First step is to do research on the person and or his/her company. Look them up and see if they have any articles presentations etc on line. Read what they have written or presented and come up with a question you can ask them.

I think the best way to follow up is to have some kind of event you can invite them to, especially if it is an interest you share.

Invite him or her to lunch with statement “I want to pick your brain.”

One book you might consider is Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. Here is an article.
Here is a link to the workbook for the book

Here also is a good summary of Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone.
More good reading 

Finally Jeffrey Gitomer wrote a book The Sales Bible. You can get it on Amazon but here is a pdf on Slideshare. Look at slide 56 which confirms my idea about inviting the person to something.

Client Development Coaching: My Advice for Junior Associates

Posted in Client Development, Client Development Coaching

I contend it is never too early for young lawyers to learn about client development.

I have given many presentations to 1-4 year law firm associates.


Here’s a short video and slides I hope might help. Please share these tools with the junior associates in your law firm.

Here is the link to my slides from my presentation Brand Yourself.

Finally, here is the link to my slides from a presentation I give to law firm junior associates.


Career Success: Work Hard, Dream Big

Posted in Client Development

How big are your dreams for your career? I ask because I encounter many lawyers whose dreams are smaller than they could be. They are limiting their own success in the process.

I have always valued this quote, attributable here to Ray Kroc.

Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. –Ray Kroc


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A few years ago, I read an interesting blog post titled: This mindset will crush your business by Jim Connolly. His post made me think of those many lawyers. I urge you to read it. Connolly talks about people who work really hard, but focus their work on things they are comfortable doing. He says the fear of failing guarantees failure.

On the other hand, Connolly describes those who have the mindset of success this way:

Their mindset, if that doing just enough is never enough. They constantly wonder; how far can I take this? Their passion and energy is contagious.  It not only powers them forward, it encourages others to join them and invest in their ideas.

When I finish coaching lawyers I like to ask:

What did you get out of our coaching?

You might be surprised that one of the most common answers is:

Confidence that I can be more valuable to my clients and achieve more than I ever dreamed. Confidence that I can be successful developing business my way.

Do you remember this blog I posted in 2012? Client Development: Change What You Think it Takes to Succeed. I told two stories about lawyers I coached who once they believed they could attract clients became far more successful.

Put simply, those lawyers started dreaming bigger dreams. You can and should also. When you do, your passion and energy will be contagious, not only for other lawyers in your firm, but more importantly for your clients and potential clients.

Client Development Coaching Program: The Keys for a Top Notch Program

Posted in Client Development Coaching

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m off to West Palm Beach. I received an email yesterday from one of the lawyers I am coaching telling me what she has been working on since we last met. She’s off to a really great start.

A few years ago, I was asked by three Legal Marketing Association chapters to make a presentation on Client Development Coaching.

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In my presentation, I focused on:

  1. Tools to convince skeptical law firm partners-Those who say “lawyers either have it or they don’t.” You have to be able to convince those partners that your firm will generate more revenue.
  2. Why coaching– One shot training programs do not work. There’s no follow up or accountability. With coaching, it’s more likely your lawyers will make positive changes and achieve their goals.
  3. What will make it successful-starts with selecting the lawyers most likely to be “all-in.” Breaking down plans to bite size pieces. Creating both a group component and individual component.

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Want to see the slides from my presentation? Here they are. You might also be interested in an eBook I wrote. You can download it from iTunes (Just search my name under books), or here is a link to it on SlideShare.


Client Development Coaching: What are you learning from rainmakers?

Posted in Career Development, Client Development Coaching

This week I’ll be coaching lawyers in West Palm Beach, FL. It is their second coaching session. I want to share with each lawyer some ideas on getting to the top.

I look back now and think about how naive I was when I first started practicing law at a law firm.

Believe it or not, I thought I would just show up every day, get handed the work, and do my very best to handle it well.

My first firm after my five years in the USAF was a formula based firm. Lawyers were paid X% of what they produced and Y% of what they originated. As one senior partner told me:

“If all you do is work on other’s files, you will be limited on how much money you can make. You can’t do client work while you are sleeping.”

That was an aha moment for me. I started studying how the rainmakers in my firm and others did it. I was told to do great work. I quickly figured out that was a given. It took more than just doing good work.

Recently I’ve been thinking about what it takes to get to the top. Here’s my thought.

What does it take to get to the top?

What else does it take? In this coaching session I share with you my observations of what separates rainmakers from fine lawyers who are not.

What do you think of my ideas?



Lawyers: 3 Days that changed my career forever

Posted in Client Development

I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently: How much of your career and mine is luck and how much is preparation?

I’m not sure I know the answer, so I want to tell you about three days that changed my career forever. I would love your thoughts. Was it luck or was it preparation…or, as I think both?


Harry Lindberg 2015

Best Day Ever 1:

 November 7, 1981. I am presenting to the Virginia Road and Transportation Builders Association. I remember it was a  Saturday morning and I was sandwiched between two governor candidates Chuck Robb and Marshall Coleman.

That was kind of a good news, bad news situation. The good news was everyone who could attend was there because of the other speakers. The bad news was no one cared about what I said…except one person.

Harry Lindberg, who was then an executive with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) saw me speak. After I finished he said these words that changed my career forever:

Would you be willing to give this presentation at our national meeting next July in Georgia?

I gave the presentation and all of a sudden, I was at the beginning of developing a national practice.

Best Day Ever 2:

I wish I could tell you the exact date. I know it was sometime in 1982. I had written a Contractor’s Guide to the 1982 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. I was a speaker on a panel for the ARTBA on that subject. One of the other speakers was a lawyer who worked for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Six months later I received a call from the general counsel of one of the largest US contractors. He said:

We have a $30 million dispute on a project in Atlanta and it involves the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. We have been told you are the best lawyer to help us.

I almost had a heart attack. I was so excited. At the end of the call I asked who had said the nice things about me. It turned out it was the FHWA lawyer who was on the panel with me. If I coached you, then you know I say:

Suppose the general counsel spoke to the lawyer on either side of that lawyer. They didn’t know me. They had not heard me speak. They couldn’t have recommended me.

Was it luck? Or, can I brag about being on top of the topic before others?

Best Day Ever 3:

I was a speaker at an American Concrete Pavement Association annual meeting. It was 1984, I don’t remember when that year. At the end of the presentation I was leaving the stage and a young guy came up to me and said:

I am the editor of Roads and Bridges magazine. Could I interview you for our magazine?

I responded:

Happy to have you interview me, but how would it be if I wrote a monthly column for your magazine?

I started writing the next month and finally gave up my column in 2007. It’s hard for me to comprehend anything I did on client development that brought in more business.

Those three days changed my life and career forever. I believe I “positioned” myself for those days, but there was also a lot of luck.

I hope this helps you “position” yourself and realize there is still a little, or maybe a lot, of luck in client development.

Going to an Event: Make the most of it

Posted in Client Development

A lawyer I am coaching sent me an email about an event she would be attending.

I’ve some exciting news. I’m planning to attend the AAA Asssociation Annual Meeting in a couple of weeks. A current client of the firm is also attending the event and has offered to introduce me around to her contacts. As you know, I’m trying to grow my book of business servicing ZZZ companies.

I wanted to reach out to you to get some advice on how I should be prepare for the upcoming event and to make the best use of this opportunity. This is the first conference of this type that I will be attending. Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated.

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It is always great to have a client going to the event and introducing you to her contacts. But, sometimes you are on your own.

I recommended the lawyer read three short pieces I believe are helpful.

The first is from Bob Burg.  It is his 10 Feel Good Questions.

The second is 15 Tips from Keith Ferrazzi:Conference Commando

The third is a Forbes piece about following up after the event: How To Master The Art Of Networking Follow-Up.

I believe all three have ideas worth considering to prepare for an event.

Client Development Coaching: Practical Tips Part 2

Posted in Client Development Coaching

Greetings from Chicago, where it is…to put a positive spin on it…brisk. Last night I ate my dinner at the Harry Caray Italian Steakhouse bar while watching the Cubs first home game from Wrigley Field.

Today, I’ll be coaching individual lawyers and at lunch talk to whole group about Client Development in 2016-Old Tools, New Tools.

I think it is important to know how to use the new tools, but in 2016, the old tools are more important than ever. (When’s the last time you sent a handwritten note?)

In the last few weeks on my client development coaching posts, I’ve shared with you Client Development Principles and Client Development Practical Tips created by a group of lawyers I coached and based on what they had learned in the coaching program.

Today I want to share a short video clip where I wrap up the Practical Tips coaching.

Looking back over the last few weeks, which of the principles and which of the practical tips can you use in your own practice to become more valuable to clients?