I have a theory based on my own experience with YouTube. My theory is that lawyers neither have time or interest in sitting through an hour-long learning session, especially when there is no CLE credit.

Do you agree?

As you may know, Lateral Link, with whom I am working, has asked me to present a 12-part Rainmaker series.  So far, the longest video is about 36 minutes.

In the first session, I covered Client Development for 2019 and beyond. Here is a link to the first session:

In the second session, I covered How to Prepare a Business Plan that Works. Here is a link to the second session:

In the third session I cover motivation and time management.

It really won’t take you much time to watch the program. I have workbooks/handouts for most, if not all, of the sessions. If you are unable to get the workbook, send me an email cparvin@laterallink.com.

I am still thinking about blogging today.  Recently the Harvard Business Review posted a blog titled: The Moment Social Media Became Serious Business  I was fascinated reading what Harold Adams Innis said about the reduction in the cost of communication in 1951, long before anyone was blogging. What he said applies to blogging today.

  • Redistributing knowledge and, in doing so, shifting power
  • Making it easier for “amateurs” to compete with “professionals,” because access to knowledge substitutes for mastery of complexity
  • Allowing individuals and minorities to voice ideas
  • Reducing the advantages of speed that formerly accrued because some had knowledge before others
  • Reducing the advantages of size that are based on the ability to afford high costs.

Because blogging costs so little, smaller law firms and younger lawyers have a chance to compete against bigger law firms and more senior lawyers. Borrowing a Seth Godin book title,  the problem is, the more lawyers and law firms blogging, the less blogging by lawyers is a Purple Cow.

So, if you are blogging, you better find a way to make your blog unique and valuable to your target market because your clients and potential clients are being inundated with indistinguishable client alerts and blogs written by lawyers. Want some tips? Take a look at 45 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog. That post may give you some good ideas.

What can you do to make your blog be unique and interesting? One way to stand out is to tell stories. Your readers will more likely read a story than some dull summary of the law.

How to do it? Here is a blog Storytelling in Blog Posts: How to Add Sparkle and Delight Readers. I like the three parts of a story:

  1. a beginning sketching the problem
  2. a middle part showing how the problem was solved
  3. a final part explaining how the hero lived happily ever after

As many of you know, I wrote a column for Roads and Bridges magazine for 25 years. I followed the three parts of a story approach in most of my columns. Every quarter I wrote a survey was taken of what was most read in the magazine and almost every quarter my column was most read. Readers liked reading stories about other contractors.

Is your blog a “purple cow”? If not, try writing a story and see if that attracts more readers.

I am frequently asked why I quit practicing law to teach and coach lawyers.

Many of you know this story, but I’ll tell it again. I was asked to be the partner in charge of attorney development in our firm. I knew the managing partner didn’t expect me to spend much time helping our junior lawyers, but I wanted to help.

During orientation for our brand new partners, I asked: “How many of you have a written business plan with goals for the year?” None of the 17 lawyers raised a hand.

Then I asked: “What do you plan to do this year to attract, retain and expand relationships with clients?” I waited and saw blank stares.

I decided to coach this group of lawyers and set a goal to double their origination (we called it development) credit in a year? They tripled the number and I decided I wanted to help other lawyers.

Why should any firm want ts lawyers to be coached? If for no other reason it is to use non-billable time wisely and not waste time, money or energy. I want to share with you a list of client development/marketing principles I share with lawyers I coach.

If I coached you, there should be no surprises below.

  1. There are a wide variety of ways you can become successful – One size clearly does not fit all. Figure out what will work for you.
  2. Make time for client development – If you try to find time for client development, you never will.
  3. Identify your major definite purpose – It is the intersection of your passion, talent and client needs.
  4. Create a plan with goals -The thought process going into the plan will make it more likely that you will achieve your goals.
  5. Focus on the best investments of time. When planning, determine what you believe will give you the greatest returns for the least investment of time. Then do those activities early and often.
  6. Identify your target market – who you want to hire you and what you want them to hire you to do. If you market to everyone, you market to no one.
  7. Find ways to hold yourself accountable – Your plan has no value if you do not act on it. Many lawyers quit before achieving success.
  8. In 2019, it is not who you know or what you know, it is who knows what you know (I believe I heard that first from Scott Ginsberg) – Clients have way more choices and way less time to select their lawyer or law firm.
  9. Build and raise your profile to become visible to your target market – Write, blog and speak to become known for your work. Become active in your community and/or the Bar. Find the best way for you to become better known.
  10. Learn to become comfortable outside your comfort zone – Focus on what you do well and also focus on expanding what you do well.
  11. Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition – Be able to explain why clients should hire you or your firm.
  12. Make your friends your clients and your clients your friends – All else being equal clients want to do business with lawyers they like and trust.
  13. Know your client’s industry, company and individual needs – Clients want their lawyers to understand the business context of the legal work they are doing.
  14. Don’t sell like others sell you – Clients do not want to do business with lawyers who are needy or greedy.
  15. Focus on your clients’ problems, opportunities, and changes – Your clients do not care about what you do, they only care if what you do helps them solve a problem, successfully achieve an opportunity or deal with a change.
  16. Stay in touch – Find ways to stay in touch with clients and referral sources that they will value.
  17. Re-use (repurpose) – your blog posts, articles, and presentations. When you can do it ethically, repurpose your billable work. Convert a brief you wrote into an article on the same subject.
  18. Spend 80% of your non-billable time with 20% of your clients, referral source and friends – The 80/20 rule applies to client development.
  19. Read what your clients read and go to industry association meetings your clients attend.
  20. Do some client development activity no matter how small each and every day – make a list of all the potential things you can do every day.
  21. Practice, practice, practice – practice writing articles and blog posts, practice presenting, practice asking good questions, practice listening, practice meeting strangers and engaging them, practice asking for business.
Law Firm Associates: What about a law firm is important to you? If you have only considered compensation and the number of billable hours expected then you may be well paid, or happy with the lower hours, but still not happy about your firm.
Here are some other things to consider:
  1. Notepad.jpgA good role model and mentor who personally takes an interest in you and helps you achieve your goals
  2. Control of your career
  3. Feeling your work makes a difference
  4. Feeling a part of a team
  5. A clear understanding of the firm’s mission, vision, how you fit in and what is expected of you
  6. Using technology better than other law firms
  7. Interesting work and constant learning experiences
  8. Continual feedback
  9. A sense you will be treated fairly
  10. Opportunities for community service

Rank these with 1 being the most important and 10 being the least important.

It was 2002. That year I brought in more business to our firm than ever before.

I woke up one day and realized that I was probably the best-known transportation construction lawyer in the country. I had become so well known because I had written a monthly column in Roads and Bridges magazine for 20 years and I had given presentations every year to transportation construction contractors throughout the United States. That day I realized that every potential transportation construction contractor client knew me and knew how to find me. They had either decided to hire me or not.

While I loved the work I was doing, I was getting bored. I did not need to take another expert witness deposition to feel fulfilled. I needed a new challenge. I believed I could help increase firm revenue by teaching client development skills and coaching and motivating our younger lawyers.

I conducted client development workshops for the lawyers in each of our offices. I taught our lawyers how to build their profile and reputation. I also taught them how to build trust and rapport with clients and potential clients. I discovered that our lawyers did not make many changes after my one shot client development workshops.

So, I began a coaching group of new partners. As I expected, our lawyers made great strides with the combination of coaching and workshops. The coaching group set a goal to double their collective revenue in two years. When they doubled their revenue in just one year, I decided to work with lawyers on a full-time basis.

I have read many client surveys done for my old firm and other firms. I am amazed at how consistent they are. Clients are generally satisfied with the senior lawyers with whom they work. They are less satisfied, and in many cases dissatisfied, with the junior partners and associates with whom they work. Those surveys point out the importance of developing those lawyers legal skills and client development skills. They will become a more valuable resource to clients and they will enjoy practicing law.

I often wonder why so few firms are building the next generation of rainmakers. Is yours?

Whether your firm is one of the largest in the country or a small firm, you should consider client development coaching and workshops. If you have a partner who is both a rainmaker and a great mentor, consider having that partner work with a group of your highly motivated young lawyers. You will not only take steps to create the next generation of rainmakers, but you will also begin creating a client development culture in your firm.

Want some help in creating a program? Take a look at my eBook..

A colleague recently asked me:

Why do lawyer who really want to change firms take so much time to complete the Lateral Partner Questionaire (LPQ)?

I responded it was because completing the firm is a tedious pain in the behind. I have seen forms that are too long and too intrusive. Thank God I never had to complete one of those.

Assuming you are of good moral character and not on the cusp of losing your license to practice law. What does a new potential firm want to know?

I say three main things:

  1. Your History
  2. Your Plan to Grow Your Practice
  3. Your Salary Expectation

Under history, a new firm wants to know how much you originated for the last three to five years and whether you expect that business to come with you, your working attorney numbers (hours billed and dollars collected on your own billings, and how much of origination and working attorney dollars came from each of your top clients.

I work with several young partners who I believe have the potential to double or triple their originations given the right platform and bench (team). In that section identify your areas of practice if you have more than one, your largest clients for the last five years, new clients from the last year, other potential clients and potential cross-selling areas of law.

When you have completed that, prepare a marketing plan in as much detail as possible. Show how you intend to attract new clients and expand relationships with existing clients. Then identify resources, people and equipment needed to retain and expand your business.

Finally, share with the new firm what you expect to be paid in your first year.

A few weeks ago I taught client development to a group of lawyers. I began by asking:

How many of you are 100% satisfied with the amount of business you are generating?

No one raised their hand. That was no surprise because no one has ever raised their hand when I asked that question.

As you might imagine, the next question is what are you doing about it? I find many young lawyers who don’t know where to start. But, I also find many older lawyers who know what to do and are not doing it.

If you know what to do, what would it take for you to actually do it?

Fourteen years ago Fast Company published an article: Change or Die. Heart patients were told they needed to stop or reduce smoking, drinking, eating, and stress, and get more exercise. Pretty simple, right? Trouble was they didn’t do it.

I like this quote in the article:

So instead of trying to motivate them with the “fear of dying,” Ornish reframes the issue. He inspires a new vision of the “joy of living.”

What is the joy of developing business? In part, it is the satisfaction that comes from knowing you are helping your clients achieve their goals.

As you undoubtedly know, I love coaching lawyers and I feel fulfilled when I hear back from them about the success they’ve achieved and their joy in their career and life.

A law firm contacted me recently about coaching lawyers in their firm. One of the firm’s lawyers asked what is the most important thing I do when coaching lawyers. It was hard for me to answer. But, I thought of a Stephen Covey quote I had recently re-read. He said:

Effectiveness-often even survival-does not depend solely on how much effort we expend, but on whether or not the effort we expend is in the right jungle.

I told him that the most important thing I do is listen and get to know the lawyer I am coaching. When I really know the lawyer I can help him or her figure out how best to spend their client development time.

Your success at client development does not depend solely on how much effort you are making. You may be working very hard at it, but as Stephen Covey would say:

“It is not in the right jungle.”

If you have a coach or a mentor, her job is to help you figure out what activities will work best for you.

If you want to do that on your own, one way is to keep a journal of what you are doing and review it and rank your activities from most important to least important.

Nancy and I watched the LPGA Championship this weekend. Under tremendous pressure, Australian golfer Hannah Green hit a shot out of the bunker on the last hole and sank a 6-foot putt to win by one stroke. We cheered for her to win.

I was reminded of this famous golf quote:

All professional golfers have to deal with pressure. Those who have never won a tournament on the tour deal with more pressure. Those whose whole country is behind them face even more pressure.

American golfers are generally playing for themselves. Because there are so many on the LPGA tour, Korean LPGA golfers are generally playing for themselves. Hannah Green was playing for all of Australia with Karrie Webb and young Australian women golfers who have won Karrie Webb’s scholarship watching intently from the gallery.

There are many back stories to Green’s win. One was a little girl who had written a poem for her. How a poem boosted Green to capture first major at Women’s PGA. Watch her interview below and you’ll understand what winning meant to her.

Hannah Green Interview

"It really is surreal."An emotional Hannah Green talks with Jerry Foltz following her incredible victory in Minnesota.

Posted by LPGA on Sunday, June 23, 2019

 

A few years ago I wrote: Take a Clue from Padraig Harrington: Pick Yourself Up and Try Again. I included a link to an Irish Times article that was one of the best sports articles I ever read: Vinny reflects on the wonders of Paddy’s ying and Yang. It was written by the Irish Times’ gambling writer and told as a story of gamblers who bet on Harrington to win the PGA only to be disappointed when he made a snowman on a par 3 hole. If you enjoy sports,  I encourage you to read it.

Nancy and I were in Ireland that day. We sat at a pub and watched Padraig. Everyone in the pub was glued to the television sets because their national hero was in the lead of a major PGA tournament. At the time, Harrington was the face of golf in Ireland. That added pressure. Hannah Green was the face of golf in Australia on Sunday and she rose to the occasion. I was thrilled that she won.

What do these golf stories have to do with you? As lawyers we face pressure. I remember the most pressure I ever faced was defending a man I believed was innocent in a bribery case. As Padraig and Hannah felt pressure being the face of Ireland and Australia, I felt the pressure of being the face of an innocent man. I willed myself to persuade the jury he was not guilty. Thankfully, they believed me.

I recently received a couple of questions:

  1. What kind of clients should I be going after?
  2. What can I do if my clients and potential clients think our rates are too high?

Other than the obvious answer:

“Go after clients who need legal work and can afford to pay for it.”

How would you answer the first question?

To me the answer is obvious, go after clients in industries that are growing. There are a variety of places to look to see what industries are growing. Here is one I found: Top 10 Industries Expected to Expand in 2019. One place is As you will see, the top of the list is tank and armored vehicle manufacturing.

Forbes has another list: These 10 Industries Are Growing The Fastest in the US.

Services that support mining and oil or gas extraction represent the fastest-growing industry in U.S…

Several industries tied to construction also top the list of industries with the highest sales growth rates in 2017.

I am not even sure you need me to tell you that focusing on fast-growing industries is a strategy to consider. What is your game plan to become visible and credible to clients in those sectors.

If clients are balking at paying your rates, the first thing to analyze is whether the type of work you are doing is routine or commodity work. If it is your clients are going to send it to the least expensive lawyers. Before long that work will be subcontracted out to lawyers in India.

You want to do work that is not routine and requires you to see things your competitors do not see. You also want to focus on being more than your clients’ lawyer. To use the book title, you want to be their Trusted Advisor.

So, what are you doing and what is your firm doing to attract business from the fastest growing industries. What are you doing to rid yourself of routine commodity work that is driven by low rates and make yourself more valuable to clients?