Several years ago, I coached two lawyers. I will call them Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and Harry Longabaugh (The Sundance Kid). They are with the same firm, in the same office and in the same practice group. They are both incredibly bright young lawyers and they both are very personable and do well building relationships.

One hoped to inherit clients from a more senior lawyer. The other hoped to be a leading rainmaker in the firm. With so much the same, and two very talented lawyers, what is the difference?

Put simply, it is how they saw themselves and where they put their focus. Sundance saw what he was not and focused on that. Butch saw what he was and focused on how he could use that to become “best in the world” in his practice area.

Sundance talked about being too young. Butch talked about having more energy because he was young. Sundance thought  he had no chance to unseat senior lawyers in his practice area. Butch brainstormed with me business development things he might do that the senior lawyers were not doing. Sundance frequently said: “Yes, but…” and Butch frequently said: “Sure, how can I…”

Why will Butch make rain and Sundance will likely not?

  • Butch will see opportunities Sundance will miss.
  • Butch will try something new and Sundance will likely not.
  • Butch will keep at it until he reaches his goal. Sundance will go back to playing it safe unless he reaches his goal quickly.

I wish I could have helped both lawyers. But, in truth, I could easily coach Butch. Time flew by when we brainstormed ideas. It was more challenging to coach Sundance. We always finished each session early because I did most of the talking and we had so little to talk about, other than his client inheritance plan.