Do you subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog? I am a big fan. Almost every day he writes something that applies to lawyers. Yesterday he posted: Along for the Ride. It is very short (I wish I could make such great points as succinctly as he does).  

It reminded me of two different ways law firms treat associates. Some firms treat associates like they are just “along for the ride.” Others encourage associates to develop their skills both as lawyers and as business developers.

How many law firms, big and small, have senior lawyers over 55 or over 60 who bring in most of the firm’s business? I saw a firm where all but one of the top 20 rainmakers were over 55. I wondered how the firm would survive when those lawyers were gone.

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Doesn’t it make sense for your firm to develop the next generation of rainmakers now?

Before considering how to build the next generation of rainmakers, it is important to understand what makes rainmakers different. I think rainmakers exhibit some or most of the following attributes:

So what do the characteristics of rainmakers tell us about creating the future rainmakers? I recommend you consider the following:

  • Rainmaking will be natural for few and a challenge for many. But, it can become natural for almost all of your lawyers with practice.
  • Focus on raising  your lawyers emotional intelligence.
  • One size does not fit all (customize your training to the individual).
  • Teach associates to set goals and prepare a plan.
  • Make your client development training interactive and experiential.
  • Start working with your associates during orientation.
  • Programs for 1-3 year associates should be vastly different than programs for 4-7 year associates.
  • For junior partners,  focus on developing a business plan, developing their profile and how to connect with clients and potential clients and enrich their relationships.
  • Your client development program will have little value if there is no follow-up individual coaching.