Several times I have given a presentation to law firms on “Unlocking the Secrets of Client Development.”

I like the title because it is catchy, but truthfully, there are no secrets. Selling yourself and your firm is not rocket science. It is mostly hard work and using your common sense to become a “go to” lawyer in your field and build high trust relationships. Here are tips on how to do it and things to avoid doing.


  • Take responsibility for your own success.
  • Develop a yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly plan to use your non-billable time most effectively and efficiently.
  • Find a way to hold yourself accountable.
  • Focus and prioritize your client development efforts including what is the greatest return for your time.
  • Decide your target market (who is it you want to hire you) and what you want the target market to hire you to do.
  • Work harder and more creatively at client development than your competitors.
  • Be more responsive than your competitors.
  • Understand your clients’ industry, company and your individual client representatives’ needs and wants.
  • Stay on top of current events to anticipate how they will create future legal issues for your clients.
  • Work on building relationships with your clients.
  • Find the marketing opportunity in the billable legal work you are doing.
  • Put your clients’ needs ahead of your own.
  • Ask great questions and listen.
  • Exceed your clients’ service expectations. Give more value than they expect. Find a way to give them some of your time.
  • Do something, no matter how small, each and every day.
  • Make sure each bill you send is accurate and reasonable.
  • Ask your clients sincerely: “Is there anything else I can do to help you?”


  • Don’t ever give up.
  • Don’t make excuses for not having time for client development.
  • Don’t ever appear to be selling. Clients may want to buy, but they hate feeling like they are being sold.
  • Don’t ever appear to be needy or greedy.
  • Don’t talk down to clients.
  • Don’t take any client for granted.
  • Don’t take on clients you will later regret. If it doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t.
  • Don’t become complacent or satisfied. Stay hungry to learn and get better.
  • Don’t say “no problem” or “honestly”
  • Don’t talk so much, especially about you and your firm. Ask questions and then listen, listen, listen.
  • Don’t forget your team. Client development is a team sport.