Holland and Hart partner Andrea Anderson and I are serving as the panel for an ABA Women Rainmaker Webinar today at 1:00 CDT. It’s not too late to sign up. You can sign up here.
As of yesterday 143 lawyers had signed up and some were men so I assume the webinar is open to any ABA member.
We asked for questions and received many in advance of the program. Before I left for the airport yesterday I tried to share my thoughts on as many questions as possible. I wrote responses to 18 questions that I will share with you here.
1. How valuable is online marketing?
Answer: Very valuable. On-Line marketing has leveled the playing field for younger lawyers. In 2019 it’s not what you know. It’s not who you know. It’s who knows what you know. On-line marketing, especially including a blog, has geometrically increased the number of potential clients who can know what you know.
2. What is the proper balance between individual relationship outreach and profile building?
Answer: It depends on your strengths (are you a “people person” or a maven who likes to share information?) It also depends on your stage of career. Early in my career, I spent 80% of my client Development time on profile building. Later I spent 80% of my time on relationship building, especially with existing clients.
3. How to make sure you get the clients referred to you?
4. How to get client referrals?
Answer: One way is to anticipate problems, opportunities and changes that impact potential clients and get that information to the influencers. My construction law practice was an industry based practiced. The executive directors of contractor associations were influencers.
5. How to bring up partnership tracks in a firm that has no specific track.
Answer: Let the managing partner and/or executive committee know you want to become a partner and ask how you will be judged and how you will know if you are on the right track.
6. Do you have an example of a business plan you can share?
Answer: The blog I posted on Tuesday includes a link to a webinar I did on preparing a business plan that works and it includes the template used in the webinar. https://www.cordellblog.com/law-firm-leadership/challenge-for-fast-growing-law-firms/
7. New partners in firms where most clients are institutional and deeply personal to older partners. Ideas?
Answer: Do something the older partners are not doing. A lawyer I coached several years ago created an internet radio show. Create a niche within the older partner’s niche and become the “go to” lawyer in that sub-niche. Figure out new areas of law. Lawyers I coached became “go-to” lawyers in data privacy, equine law, fashion law IP, sports law, and most recently marijuana law.
8. How should I structure remuneration for new partners? Which business model is best?
Answer: It depends on what the firm wants to reward and why rewarding it is important to the firm. When I coach law firm lawyers, we have group and individual coaching. In Andrea’s law firm almost all of the group I coached are still with the firm and they still get together at firm retreats. Her firm valued teamwork and group effort. I believe many lawyers do not want an eat what you kill compensation system, but at the same time those lawyers want to be compensated for bringing in the clients.
9. My client base is mostly insurance carriers. Do you have suggestions?
Answer: I have two. First, be a speaker at as many insurance events as possible. Second, build a personal relationship with the insurance men and women and help make their job easier.
10. Can you share any advice on navigating gender stereotypes while trying to network and bring in business?
Answer: Andrea might be the better person to answer this one. That said, my advice is to be authentic, be genuine, be the person you really are. My second piece of advice is to believe in yourself. I’ve coached hundreds of women lawyers. Many have outperformed the male lawyers in their firm once they believe in themselves. I’ve written about it here: https://www.cordellblog.com/career-development/women-lawyers-self-confidence-key-to-your-success/ and here https://www.cordellblog.com/client-development/how-the-super-lawyers-keep-getting-better/
11. Any advice on responding to RFPs.
Answer: Read carefully and make sure to respond to what the potential client believes is important. Figure out some way you can add value beyond what is expected.
12. When law is a second career, how can you leverage your relationships from your first career and turn them into clients?
Answer: You have a competitive advantage. Clients want lawyers to understand their business. That is your advantage. Now you have to demonstrate you are also a great lawyer. Write for industry publications and speak at industry events.
13. How do you convert contracts and colleagues into clients?
Answer: Anticipate their legal problems, opportunities, and changes before they have thought about them and write or speak on the subject.
14. Does the same advice apply to women who are already partners but need to rebuild or reinvigorate their practice?
Answer: To reinvigorate yourself, I believe you have to answer the “what” and “why” questions and then think creatively about the “how.” What do you want to accomplish now? Why is accomplishing it important to you? What do your potential clients need now? Why is it important to them?
15. How do you continue to make rain when a lot of your referral sources are retiring?
Answer: One way is to write and speak on the most current legal topics. Another way is to hang out where the younger referral sources hang out. In my experience, younger referral sources would rather be at home with their families than to be at events and dinners. So, creating content and using social media to distribute it is another alternative.
16. What are the most “bang for your buck” marketing activities? What are the must do?
Answer: It depends on your strengths. Take the StrengthsFinder survey. I wrote about it here https://www.cordellblog.com/client-development/client-development-what-kind-of-client-development-efforts-suit-you-best/ including a report on my top five strengths. Had I known my top five strengths I would have politely declined when an older partner told me I had to be in Rotary Club.
17. How do I identify the business development activity with the highest return so I can prioritize that?
Answer: I always made a list and attempted to identify high return low investment of time. For each lawyer it is different. For me, it was writing a monthly column for 25 years in an industry publication. A lawyer I coached found sports and sporting events was the highest return. A lawyer I coached in Canada uses social media to share information in his field of law. Each of you will figure it out. Sometimes it will be by trial and error.
18. How much time should be spent on business development v. billable work?
Answer: I always tried to spend 500 hours a year on business development and my own development and I counted everything, including seven hours to take a group to a Cowboys football game, an hour reading a book on marketing while the TV was on in the background.