Let’s face it, 2020 has been the most unusual year in my life and also in your life. That being the case, my bet without knowing for sure is that client development has been at the bottom of priorities this year.

But, 2021 should be better for all of us. If you are a young lawyer, I hope you will renew your efforts to build a book of business.

Some young lawyers I met while coaching were impatient. One associate I coached several  years ago sent me an email after one month of coaching. Here is what she said:

Cordell, I have been doing everything we talked about when we had our first coaching session and everything you talked about to our coaching group and I haven’t gotten a new client yet. Am I being too hard on myself?

I let her know that if she had actually gotten a new client in a month, she needed to take my place. To her credit, she stuck with it and became a partner in her firm.

I experienced frustration when I was a young lawyer. I had put my heart and soul into my business development and had not gotten results.

Many times I wondered whether it was worth all the time I was putting in. A couple of senior lawyers in my firm routinely put my efforts down. I think they just wanted me to work on their clients. I also realized that some of my efforts were not fruitful.

I kept on because I wanted to control my own destiny and not be dependent on senior lawyers. Whenever I got discouraged I pictured myself five years later with $500,000 a year in business.

I discovered later that it took less time to get from $500,000 a year to $1 million, and less time to get from $1 million a year to $2 million and even less time to get from $2 million a year to $ 3 million. The point I want to make to you is that many of your friends and colleagues will give up in the initial climb.

I made client development a habit and tried to do something no matter how small each and every day. There came a time about two years after I started to see results. Then I discovered that each of my client development efforts built on previous efforts I had made. That was the reason it took less time to get to the higher numbers.

Here is something to consider. I contend that less than 3% of young lawyers are making focused efforts at client development. If you are one of the 3% and you are frustrated that you are not seeing results yet, that is ok.

Think about why you are frustrated. It is because you are not content being average. The fact you are frustrated, just as I was many years ago, is the reason you will be successful.

When I experienced the impatience you are experiencing, I did two things:

  • I evaluated each of my efforts and decided which ones were most effective and which were not effective.
  • I made an even greater effort and tried harder.

As we reach the end of this crazy year, I recommend you make plans for 2021. If you want to share your plan with me, send it to me.