Law firms that create a “buzz” about client development find their lawyers are energized to attract, retain and expand relationships with clients. I know because I have witnessed it in my old firm and in several firms where I have coached.

How can you create the “buzz?” Have you ever put together a panel of your firm’s top rainmakers to share their ideas with your next generation?

Years ago an associate asked me to be on a panel of partners to discuss client development for an associate quarterly meeting beamed by video to all of our offices.  I had a blast sharing what worked for me, listening to my partners and taking questions from associates.

Our associates learned that there were certain client development principles, but each of us approached our client development efforts differently, meaning there was no one way to become successful.

When I began coaching, I suggested the panel idea to firm leaders who wanted the lawyers I coached to share their experiences with associates.  I suggested that they let me moderate two panels:

  1. Associates I was coaching at the time
  2. Firm rainmakers.

The program was a great success. The rainmakers were impressed by what the young lawyers in the coaching program were doing, and everyone who attended gained new ideas about client development.

Afterwards there was a buzz around the firm with associates and partners asking to participate in the next coaching program.

Here are the questions I asked the senior associates who were participating in the coaching program:

  1. What have you learned about client development from the coaching program so far?
  2. What are you doing differently as a result?
  3. What do you think of the idea of having a business plan and goals? How does that help you?
  4. Where do you expect to be five years from now as a result of your new focus on client development?
  5. What do you wish you had done as a younger lawyer you think would be paying off for you now?
  6. What is the single most important piece of advice you can offer young associates?

Here are the questions I prepared for the rainmakers:

  1. Think back when you were an associate. Other than just doing great work, what steps did you take that later paid off for you in your client development?
  2. What do you know now about client development that you wish you had known then?
  3. How did you make client development part of your habits?
  4. In a firm that strives to have institutional clients, why should an associate want to learn about client development?
  5. How much non-billable time do you spend on client development and how do you spend that time?
  6. What is the one piece of advice you would offer the associates that you think they could do that would have the greatest impact on their future success?
I have moderated panels in five firms where I have coached and seen the “buzz” created in those firms. Give  it a try in your firm, and if you have any questions touch base with me.