When I practiced law I often wondered why the client who had hired me to get them out of a tough jam at great expense, had not hired me to help them avoid getting into the jam at far less expense.

Today, I wonder why law firms do not hire me, or anyone else to do client development coaching for their lawyers to make sure they get it.

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Some time ago, I found the answer to my questions in a Fast Company article by Dan and Chip Heath titled: Turning Vitamins Into Aspirin: Consumers and the “Felt Need” As the Heaths point out:

If entrepreneurs want to succeed, as venture capitalists like to say, they’d better be selling aspirin rather than vitamins. Vitamins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

I know that when I practiced law, clients were more willing to pay for the “must haves’ than they were to pay for the “nice-to-haves.”

The same is true in my current work with lawyers and law firms. Sad as it may seem, many law firms view developing the next generation of rainmakers as a “nice-to-have” rather than a “must have.” I guess they assume their baby boomer lawyers will never retire.

Likewise, when the economy is tough, law firms cut training and development of their lawyers because it goes from a “must have” to a “nice to have.” Thus, even though developing the next generation of outstanding lawyer rainmakers is “nice-to-have” not a “must-have” for the near future.

One irony in all this: My best construction law clients were the ones who hired me to do “nice-to-have” legal work and now my best law firms and the best lawyers for whom I work hire me to help with “nice-to-have” goals.

One other irony: The primary way I got hired for “must have” work was by creating content to help clients avoid the “must have” problem.

I have a question for you. What will happen to your law firm when the vast majority of baby boomers retire? Have you developed the next generation of rainmakers?

stuck_on_mountain.jpgRecently I posted: Most Important Client Development Tip for Litigators and suggested one of the best ways for litigators to market is to write and speak on how to avoid the very litigation they want clients to hire them to do.

Even if litigators write and speak on ways to avoid the litigation, very few clients hire them to avoid the problems. Have you ever wondered why?

I recently found the answer to your question in a Fast Company article by Dan and Chip Heath titled: Turning Vitamins Into Aspirin: Consumers and the “Felt Need”  As the Heaths point out:

If entrepreneurs want to succeed, as venture capitalists like to say, they’d better be selling aspirin rather than vitamins. Vitamins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

Your clients are far more willing to pay for the “must haves’ than they are to pay for the “nice-to-haves.” That is increasingly true in the tough economy. Think creatively how you can price your work so clients will want to have you help them with the “nice to have” preventative legal work. I found one of the best ways was to offer day-to-day telephone advice at a flat monthly fee. If the client was in my community, I also offered to meet once a quarter for lunch just to catch up on what is going on in their business.

One irony in all this: My very best clients hired me to do “nice-to-have” legal work. Your best clients will choose you for “nice to have” legal work also when you are able to demonstrate its value.