Are you a young litigator and not doing as well as you would like with client development? If so, do you likely fall into one, or more of these four categories:

  • You do great work, you’ve gotten or will get a Martindale A-V rating and you wait for the phone to ring.
  • You do not want to be “pigeon-holed.”
  • You are focused on “selling” what you do as a litigator.
  • You write or speak to other lawyers.

These approaches are ineffective for a variety of reasons.

First, everyone you compete against is selling the same thing-litigation. As a result, the only lawyers who can successfully  just wait for the phone to ring are the top “go to” litigators in your city, or lawyers who have big clients who are constantly in court.

Litigators who do not want to get “pigeon holed” either do not market at all, or they market to everyone. If you market to everyone, you essentially market to no one. You will be more successful narrowing the focus of your marketing efforts.

Litigators who are selling what they do tend to focus on clients who have an immediate need. They scour the docket sheets looking for companies that have been sued. When a friend casually mentions that his company has been sued, the first question from the lawyer is: “Has your company hired anyone to defend it yet?” Unfortunately, unless the company is already a client, they will be competing with lots of other talented lawyers.


Very few litigators will actually get work from writing and speaking to other lawyers. While it may build your reputation to speak at an ABA Annual Meeting or State Bar meetings, it will be challenging to get work from other lawyers. I know. I spoke at the ABA Annual Meeting in 1981 and I am still waiting for a call from a lawyer who saw me speak.

I encourage you to change your mindset. Narrow your focus and then become visible and credible to potential clients that are not looking for a lawyer now. Do your homework and think about their potential problems or changes they will face that may result in litigation.

How can you figure out what your will be an issue for your clients in the future? The best way is to keep up with the news and what is happening in your city, state, country and the world. Also keep up with what is going on in your client’s industry by reading trade publications and newsletters.

When you see something that might impact potential clients,  come up with a solution and write about it, or give a presentation. When you write or speak, you will likely be more successful if you focus on ways to avoid litigation.