- Law schools brag that students are taught to “think like a lawyer.” Unfortunately students are not taught to “think like a client.” As a result, young lawyers do not appreciate the business context of their legal work.
- Law students are taught "the law," but not taught how to to be a lawyer who helps clients.
- Law students are taught to speak and write, but not taught to ask good questions and actively listen.
- In law school, establishing goals is easy. Most law students want to finish near the top of their class, pass the bar and get a good job. As associates, setting goals is more complicated because the potential choices are infinite. So, most associates do not have a plan for their career or for client development. Many who do have a plan do not have the discipline or commitment necessary to stay with it during “dips.”
- In many firms associates are told to do great work and not worry about client development. Yet, in those same firms, the path to partnership generally includes the associate’s potential to develop business, or in some cases their actual success developing business.
- The learning curve for developing business and expanding relationships with clients is the about the same no matter when the learning begins. Associates who begin learning about client development early in their careers are better prepared to be valuable partners.
In Building the Next Generation of Rainmakers article I wrote for “The Practical Lawyer,” I outlined the kind of training on client development I suggest for associates. As you will see in the article, I suggest that to the extent possible, the learning be interactive and experiential rather than just lectures. In the training, associates should learn how to prepare a Development Plan with goals, how to focus on their contacts, how to build their profile and how to build relationships.
I talked about many of those things in a LexBlog Client Development for Associates webinar Tuesday when I answered questions from participants. After the webinar LexBlog blogged Following up on today’s webinar with Cordell Parvin: a few helpful materials. Click on the link and you will be able to download the materials.