I will be doing a client development for associates webinar with LexBlog’s  Kevin O’Keefe tomorrow at Noon Eastern Time. It will be fun, in part because it will be interactive. Instead of a PowerPoint presentation, I  will be answering questions from the participants. If you want to learn more about it and sign up, read LexBlog Network Webinar : Client Development for Associates with Cordell Parvin

I recently read a David Rock article describing considerable research on the brain’s role in both learning and performance. They have found that we have both a “hard wired” part of our brain and a “working memory” part of our brain. For the learning and training to be effective, we must seek to move it from the working memory part of our brain to the hard wired part of our brain.

In a nutshell, what does this scientific information mean? Your associates may be “hard wired” to get their hours. But, they are not hard wired to develop their profile as a “go-to” lawyer and build relationships with contacts and clients. Your associates know that to be a successful partner, they must build a book of business and most of them want to do it. Yet, they never get started, in part because they do not know where to start.

Does your firm wait until your lawyers become partners to begin their client development training? By then, it is more difficult to learn, develop and implement client development activities and the learning curve is not reduced. So, I encourage you to begin client development training for your lawyers as soon as they arrive at your law firm.

Your client development training for associates should be in bite sized pieces, not in big chunks. The idea is to have them learn and implement what they have learned before moving on to something else. Begin by simply teaching them how to plan their non-billable time and help them identify the client development tools they can use.

When teaching them, get your associates to focus on client development ideas and solutions, not on the problems they have to overcome to do client development. To the extent possible, let them come to their own answers. As David Rock points out, studies have shown that when people experience an “ah ha” moment on their own there is a sudden adrenaline energy rush that is conducive to making changes.

Finally, training by itself will not likely be successful. However, training with follow-up implementation along with mentoring or coaching will way more likely be successful. So, get your best client development mentors involved in your associate training.