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.
- 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.
- Make time for client development – If you try to find time for client development, you never will.
- Identify your major definite purpose – It is the intersection of your passion, talent and client needs.
- Create a plan with goals -The thought process going into the plan will make it more likely that you will achieve your goals.
- 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.
- 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.
- Find ways to hold yourself accountable – Your plan has no value if you do not act on it. Many lawyers quit before achieving success.
- 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.
- 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.
- Learn to become comfortable outside your comfort zone – Focus on what you do well and also focus on expanding what you do well.
- Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition – Be able to explain why clients should hire you or your firm.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t sell like others sell you – Clients do not want to do business with lawyers who are needy or greedy.
- 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.
- Stay in touch – Find ways to stay in touch with clients and referral sources that they will value.
- 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.
- Spend 80% of your non-billable time with 20% of your clients, referral source and friends – The 80/20 rule applies to client development.
- Read what your clients read and go to industry association meetings your clients attend.
- 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.
- 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.