If you want to learn more about presentations take a look at this post: Top ten tips for incredibly successful public speaking by David Meerman Scott. I like all ten of the tips.

The third tip is to tell stories. That was one of the primary tips I gave Dave when he was preparing his presentation. Recently I was going through some of my old presentations. I found one I gave in 1982 about the Hyatt Disaster in Kansas City. That well-known tragedy provided me with a story to tell contractors and engineers about potential liability.

Today, many have forgotten that two skywalks crashed to the lobby floor killing 114 people and injuring 186 others. If I had just done a presentation on liability, the audience would not have paid much attention. Presenting the legal points as part of a story, a well-known story, made them more interested.


Client development is about becoming a “go to” lawyer and developing relationships. For many of you, becoming a “go to” lawyer is much easier than developing the relationships. After all, if you bill 2000 hours a year in your niche, over time you will know your legal specialty well.

How many hours a year are you spending developing your people skills?  How can you learn and practice those skills? First, you need to have an intense interest in people. Only through having that interest will you focus on learning about them, understanding their needs and listening with a sensitive ear.

In my own case, long ago I decided to teach senior high Sunday School at our church. One reason I volunteered was teaching would force me to read and understand the Bible. A second reason was I wanted to get to know the teenagers, most of whom had no desire to get up Sunday morning and come to class, and then figure out ways to make the lessons meaningful from their perspective rather than my own.

I really worked hard to understand what it was like to be a teenager in the early 80s. I met with them and listened. I read books and searched for different ways to reach them. Each week I wrote handwritten letters to each one of them, letting them know I missed them if they had missed the last class, or letting them know I enjoyed our time together if they had attended the last class.

I think more than anything else, I conveyed that I cared about them. I cannot describe how valuable this experience was for me. Because the mindset of teenagers was so different from my own, understanding the mindset of my construction clients was less a challenge.

I tried other experiments to develop my people skills. Since I traveled by myself on business, I took opportunities to talk and mostly listen to strangers I met while flying or while eating my dinner by myself at the hotel bar. I purposely engaged them in conversation and asked open ended questions without making judgments or offering unsolicited advice. I tried to develop my emphatic listening skills.

What are you doing to learn and practice your people skills?

This is one of my series on client development skills every lawyer needs to learn. Today, the focus will be on skills to build relationships and get hired. These mostly require that you get up from your computer and get out of your office.


Building Relationships and Getting Hired

  1. Networking-Asking remembering names, questions, actively listening
  2. Sources of business
  3. How to focus on Contacts (Client relationship management)
  4. How selling legal services is different
  5. How to make a good first Impression
  6. How clients narrow their selection
    1. Importance of website bio
    2. The importance of your relationships
    3. How to get recommendations
    4. Strength of weak ties
  7. How to go from being considered to being selected
    1. Building trust and rapport
    2. Developing questions
    3. Listening skills
    4. How to ask for business

Did you miss the first Rainmaker Series session? No worries, here is a link to the recording.

Two years ago I spent four weeks in Spanish Immersion in San Miguel de Allende. From 9-1 each day I sat in a class with five other students and teachers taught us grammar, conversation, and vocabulary. Most afternoons I spent one-on-one with a teacher/coach who focused on my individual needs.

Like my experience learning Spanish, there are differences between teaching and coaching lawyers on client development. Teaching is aimed at all members of the class. Coaching is focused on the individual. Teaching is about giving the right answers. Coaching is about asking the right questions and giving feedback to the lawyer.

At the beginning of the video, I suggested that participants write or type their takeaways from the first session and how they planned to implement them. That was because each participant is different.

To illustrate how coaching is different I want you to use your imagination. Suppose we are having a coaching session today and you have told me you want to raise your visibility and credibility to your target market and you want me to help you figure out how to best do that by writing and speaking. Here are some questions I might ask you.


Writing and Speaking for Business Development Skills


Writing Articles and Blogging

  1. Would you enjoy writing articles or blog posts to attract clients?
  2. What are 3 potential topics you think would help your potential clients?
  3. Who is your intended reader and what publications are best?
  4. Is your article for lawyers, or businessmen and women?
  5. If a potential client did a Google search what is the best title for them to find your article or blog post?
  6. If you shared with me an article or blog post, I would ask: Does your opening sentence/paragraph cause your targeted reader to want to read more?
  7. What are your takeaways for your reader?
  8. How can you get the greatest number of potential clients or referral sources to read your article?

Once the article or blog post was completed, I would go over it with you and share my insights on how I think you might make it better.


  1. Would giving a compelling presentation help you attract business?
  2. Topic: What are your listeners’ problems, opportunities and changes?
  3. How can you best get the opportunity to speak to the group?
  4. What homework do you plan to do before the presentation? (Who is the audience, how many will attend, what is the layout of the room?)
  5. What slides if any do you plan to use? If your slides are visual rather than bullet points, what do you plan to use as a teleprompter? Note: What the audience sees does not have to be the same as what you see on your computer.
  6. What is the most interesting opening you can give? Note: You should spend more time on your opening than any other part of the presentation. You have at most 90 seconds to capture your audience and answer their question: “What’s in this for me?
  7. Handout: What do you plan to include and when do you intend to provide it?
  8. How do you plan to engage the audience and handle questions they may ask?
  9. How will you follow up after the presentation?

I would then have the lawyer I am coaching deliver the presentation and we would go over posture, voice, gestures, eye contact, connecting with the audience.

Every world-class PGA golfer has a coach. Most have several coaches. See the Washington Post article: PGA golfers have come to depend on swing coaches.
If the greatest golfers in the world think there is value in having a coach watch their swing, it might be valuable for lawyers to have a coach read their article, watch them present and read their blog, and in each case offer feedback.  Are you getting any feedback or just shooting from the hip?






Well, today is the day. It’s the kick-off of the Lateral Link Rainmaker program. I’m ready. I hope to see you at 11:00 AM CDT. (I think I may have written noon in an earlier blog post.) If you know me, you know that I love helping young lawyers succeed. So, I am excited about working with you and others over the next 12 months.

If I were to summarize what I am covering this month, I would say:

This month I am sharing with you how electronic media/the internet has taken the luck out of client development. Your goal in 2019 is to increase the number of “weak-tie” relationships who know what you know and are recommending you to potential clients.

Next month I will share with you how to prepare a business plan that works. Please contact me with any questions and/or specific topics you want me to cover in the Webinar.

Okay. Let’s get to the meat of my blog post today.

In 1991, David Maister wrote an article titled: How Clients Choose. He described what it feels like to be a client. As you will see, he advises that clients feel they are taking a personal risk hiring a lawyer or law firm. They feel insecure, skeptical, concerned, exposed and threatened.

David Maister’s article reminded me of advice, I received from my first mentor. It still applies in 2019. He told me:

When business clients find themselves in a jam, they want lawyers who inspire confidence. They want to believe you are the lawyer who can handle their problem.

Clients want lawyers who listen to them, analyze an issue carefully, reach an opinion and then have confidence they are advising the right approach.

I can’t resist referencing two songs that describe that kind of lawyer. The first is Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Taylor

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

The second is Simply the Best, also originally recorded by Bonnie Taylor, but I love the live version by Tina Turner.

You’re simply the best, better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I’ve ever met

I don’t know that clients want their lawyers to be heroes or even simply the best, but they certainly want to feel their lawyers are confident and competent to handle the client’s matter.

What Clients Do Not Want

What do clients not want? One time I asked a large construction company executive told me:

I don’t want a lawyer to tell me at the beginning of a potential dispute that our case is solid, we can get to trial in 12 months and the cost will be $200,000, and then two years later on the courthouse steps, after we spent $500,000 tell me our case is no good and we must settle before trial.

Thankfully, he was not talking about me, but I still remember what he said.

Clients do not want lawyers who are:

  • Selfish and put their own interests first
  • Arrogant
  • Do not listen effectively
  • Short-sighted
  • Do not comprehend the Impact on their client
  • Lacking Curiosity
  • “Yes” Men or Women
  • Inefficient and costly




Have you signed up for the Lateral Link Rainmaker series? Our first session will be on Thursday at noon CDT. I hope you will participate.

If you want to get prepared for our June 13 session. I recommend that you take the Gallup StrengthsFinder survey to find your Top 5 Strengths. Knowing them will help you prepare a plan and use your time most wisely. I wrote a blog about it. Click here and if you get a chance click on the link to the report that was done on my Top 5 Strengths. You’ll find it near the bottom of the blog. If I had known them when I was a young lawyer, I would have saved lots of wasted time.

You will also want to print out the 2019 ATTORNEY BUSINESS PLAN TEMPLATE and have it available for our June session.

Ir rarely place associates because I don’t personally know very many. But, if you are a law firm associate, I hope yoi will join me over the next year.

Do your partners tell you:

 “We just want you to do good work.”

In other words, the last thing on earth they would want you to do is to spend time building relationships with clients and potential clients. You’ll be okay for a few years, but you have no security. When the economy tanks,  firms lay off associates and income partners who “just do good work.”

What is the problem with just doing good work? When you were in law school, generally the best that can be said is that you were taught through the Socratic Method “to think like a lawyer.” You were not been taught what it is like to be a lawyer and were not taught to “think like a client.” Yet, everything you do as a lawyer, even dull and boring document reviews, you are doing for a client.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with firms whose leaders wanted their associates to learn about client development. Many of those firms started programs early in the associates’ careers. I had the opportunity to coach many of the associates as they moved toward partnership. Many of the associates I coached are now top rainmakers in their law firms.

I want to help you develop your client development skills. As I hope you know, you can join me once a month for the next 12 months in the Lateral Link Rainmaker Series. It’s free. Join me and we’ll focus on these three main areas:

  • Developing plans with written goals for their non-billable time. Effective time planning and time management is the starting point for successful client development.
  • Writing, speaking and networking skills. Lawyers need to become visible and credible to potential clients. I see many articles and blog posts that are intellectually stimulating, but not likely to be read by potential clients.
  • People skills and relationship building. Your young lawyers need to know how clients select lawyers and what clients want. They need to be taught to ask good questions and actively listen to answers. They need to work on building relationships by developing trust and rapport. This skill is increasingly important as email, text messages and social media become more popular.

I know first hand from my experience working with associates throughout the United States and Canada that when they figure out what will work best for them,  they are more energized about client development. Please join me and I’ll help you figure out what will work best for you. I hope you start on May 9.


During my law career and my coaching career, I told associates and young lawyers that they are never too young to begin working on becoming a “go to’ lawyer.

Years ago I read The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. One of the laws is the importance of being first in the mind of your clients. The authors use a common example asking who was the second person to cross the Atlantic solo in an airplane? Likely you don’t know or remember. Yet, most of us know that Charles Lindbergh was first to cross the Atlantic solo in an airplane.

Do you know who was the third person to cross the Atlantic solo in a plane? You likely do not know. But, if asked who was the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo in a plane, you would more likely know it was Amelia Earhart. You are more likely to remember because she was the first in a new category.

What does this have to do with law?

You may be like several lawyers I coached who worked under a senior lawyer who casted a huge shadow because he or she was the “go to” lawyer in his or her field. Knowing the importance of being first in the mind of clients and potential clients, what can you do if you are faced with that challenge?

Think about what you want to accomplish. You need to ask this because it will be challenging to be seen by your clients and potential clients as the “go to” lawyer in something you don’t care about. Then you can take one of these approaches:

  • If you can’t be the “go to” lawyer in that niche, narrow your focus and focus on a new niche. I narrowed my marketing focus from commercial litigation to construction litigation to transportation construction. A lawyer I am coached narrowed his focus from commercial litigation to computer forensics involved in litigation.
  • Do something the “go to” senior lawyer is not doing. Create a Blog, do Podcasts, conduct webinars, make your articles downloadable from your website bio, become active on social networking sites.

You are never too young, never too inexperienced to begin working on being the “go to” lawyer in a niche. What are you doing to become a “go to” lawyer?


• What makes client development in 2011 different and more challenging than 10 years ago – the economy, clients and the tools available
• How to develop a business plan
• How to determine individual goals that will challenge and stretch them
Have you signed up yet? Do you know any up and coming lawyers who will benefit from learning about client development? The Lateral Link Rainmaker Series is FREE.  What will you learn? I’ve made a list here. Our first session is May 9. I hope you’ll join me then and each month thereafter.
How to determine what activities to undertake to meet their goals
• Methods to hold themselves accountable
• How to raise their visibility and credibility to their target market
• How to write articles and give presentations that will enhance their reputation and increase their chances of getting hired
• Networking
• Building relationships
• How clients select outside counsel
• “Beyond Selling”- How to get business without coming across like a used car salesman
• Extraordinary client servicI am speaking at the Dallas Legal Marketing Association (LMA) chapter meeting next month, and the Atlanta LMA chapter meeting in Octobler on how to create an effective client development coaching program. If you are attending either meeting, think about this: Have your lawyes learned:
  • What makes client development in 2019 different and more challenging than 10 years ago – the economy, clients and the tools available
  • How to develop a business plan
  • How to create individual goals that will challenge and stretch you
  • How to determine what activities to undertake to meet your goals
  • Methods to hold yourself accountable
  • How to raise your visibility and credibility to their target market
  • How to write articles and give presentations that will enhance your reputation and increase your chances of getting hired
  • How to write effective blogs
  • The power and effective use of social media
  • How to effectively network
  • How to build lasting relationships
  • How clients select outside counsel
  • “Beyond Selling”- How to get business without coming across like a used car salesman
  • What is extraordinary client service and how to deliver it
  • What rainmakers do differently

I am posting this blog again specifically for the lawyers who have signed up for the Lateral Link Rainmaker Series. If you have signed up, I encourage you to discover their Top 5 Strengths before you participate in the program. Click on the link at the bottom of this post and check out the report on my Top 5 Strengths. I only wish I had known them when I first became a lawyer.

I once met with a wonderful lawyer I was coaching who was upset. It seems her mentor/senior lawyer in her firm was giving her a hard time about not taking enough potential clients and referral sources to lunch.

She told me she was uncomfortable doing that. I would have been also.

One size clearly does not fit all. The lawyers I coached appreciated that they can approach client development in ways that will work best for them. You can also. The first step to becoming a rainmaker is to figure out what client development efforts you will enjoy and what efforts will work best for you.

boy_shoes_toobig.jpgYears ago I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book:  The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. I recommend the book.

Like most business/marketing books I suggest you skim the parts of the book that do not apply to marketing your law practice and focus on the parts that do.

The first of the three main points in The Tipping Point is the “law of the few.”

The marketing activities that will work best for you will depend in part on whether you are a

  1. Connector,
  2. Maven or
  3. Salesmen.


Connectors know lots of people. You know the type. No one is a stranger to them.

They know people in different worlds. Connectors are masters of “weak ties,” meaning many relationships that are not deep ones.

If you are a connector, more than anything else you need to spend your marketing time out from behind your computer.

Want to determine if you are a connector? Take Gladwell’s Are you a connector test.


Mavens accumulate knowledge. They do the research most of us don’t want to do and they find joy in passing along what they learn.

If you are a maven, you figure out things that impact your clients before other lawyers. You should spend your marketing time staying on top of what is impacting your clients and writing or speaking about those topics.


Salesmen are charismatic people who can persuade others even when the others are not convinced of what they are hearing. They can sell anything.

Based on two studies, Gladwell notes that little things can be as important as big things. Second, non-verbal clues are as important; or, more important than verbal clues. Finally, persuasion works in ways we do not fully appreciate.

It is not always the obvious eloquence; it can be way more subtle. Great salesmen connect with their clients in a variety of non-verbal ways including non-verbal enthusiasm, confidence and emotional expressiveness. If you are a salesman, you should spend your marketing time speaking to groups and in one-on-one meetings with potential clients and referral sources.

Here is another summary of the three types Know Your Strength for More Success: Are you a Connector, a Maven, or a Salesman?

StrengthsFinder-Figure out your strengths

If you want to get a better idea of what kind of marketing efforts will work best for you, buy the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and take the StrengthsFinder test. My friend Cindy Pladziewicz helps lawyers I coach figure out how to use their StrengthsFinder results.

Cindy has been working with me on my strengths.

Take a look at a report that was done analyzing my strengths. If you look at the report about me you will likely understand what client development efforts suited me best when I practiced law and why I am well suited to teach and coach lawyers.

Which type of person are you? What are your strengths? Are you spending your marketing time to your best advantage?


So far the response to the Lateral Link Rainmaker Webinar Series has been outstanding. As of yesterday, 101 lawyers have signed up. If you are one of those lawyers, I’d love to get your specific questions. Over the first three months, we’ll cover Client Development for Now and Beyond, How to Prepare a Business Plan and Motivation and Accountability. If you have a question send it to me: cparvin@laterallink.com.

I received several emails from lawyers and firm marketing directors asking how much it cost to participate. IT’S FREE. Lateral Link is covering the cost of production and I am doing it for free to help as many young lawyers as possible get on the right track to develop business.

In the link above, there’s a place to sign up. If you are interested or know anyone who is interested, sign up right away. There is a limit to how many can be on the monthly calls at one time. In the first webinar on May 9, I will be covering Client Development 2019. It will be an overview of what we’ll cover in future webinars. In June I will show you how to prepare a business plan. I’ve coached over 1500 lawyers and many of them will tell you that when you commit a plan to writing, you’ll more likely do what you have planned.

I haven’t been focusing on recruiting associates. But, if you are a highly motivated associate and you think I can help you, let me get to know you.

When I was the practice group leader and the partner in charge of attorney development in my firm, our HR director asked me for the one attribute in associates that separated the future stars from others. What do you suppose my answer was?

Sometimes it is hard to boil down what separates the best from others to one attribute, but for me the answer was easy. I replied:

“The burning desire to keep learning and growing as a lawyer.”

I intuitively believed that was the one attribute. I later learned scientists believe it also.

In a New York Times article: If You’re Open to Growth, You Tend to Grow, the writer shares findings by Stanford professor, Carol Dweck on people with a fixed mindset and people with a growth mindset.

“People with a growth mind-set tend to demonstrate the kind of perseverance and resilience required to convert life’s setbacks into future successes.”

You can’t practice law for an entire career without setbacks.

All the associates who have worked for me and the lawyers I have coached are talented. Yet, the associates who stood out , and are successful partners now, were never content with what they had achieved or learned. They did not waste time proving how good they were or get stressed comparing themselves to others. Instead, they had a passion for learning. They believed success is a long term commitment and they were open to my help.

The lawyers who do not have the burning desire to learn, are also generally more stressed out. Why? They feel the pressure to prove themselves over and over and they are constantly comparing themselves to others. I cannot really help those lawyers.

If you want to be a future star, focus on learning, growing and becoming a better lawyer each and every day. If you are that kind of lawyer, I would be happy to help you find the right firm.