In my new role as a legal recruiter, the first question law firms ask when considering partner candidates is:

Does he/she have clients? (Code for what is the amount of his/her portable business?)

In my role as a recruiter, more often than not I am not placing the lawyers who have $1 million or more in portable business. More often I am placing lawyers who have the potential to have $1 million in business.

So this post is aimed at those lawyers and at the firms that might consider them.

I recently read Jim Connelly’s Marketing blog post: You have no clients. Seriously. Not even one!

Connelly wrote:

Once you’ve earned someone’s custom, trust or attention, it’s just the beginning. If you want to retain their custom, trust and attention, you then need to keep on re-earning it. The moment you begin to think otherwise, you risk becoming complacent.

To put it in lawyer-client terms, Connelly is suggesting that you not focus on obtaining the client, but instead focus on developing the relationship.

I suspect that a natural question may be how do you develop relationships with potential clients and referral sources.

I have always suggested that it was about building trust and rapport. I believe that building trust means demonstrating you are the right lawyer for the legal matter. I believe building rapport means you demonstrate you genuinely care about the person and become interested in him or her beyond the work.

With my own ideas in mind, I went searching for a how-to article/blog post. I found a 2017 Forbes article titled: How To Build Strong Business Relationships. The first thing that struck me was the results of a study:

An essential part of business success is having a strong network. In fact, a Harvard study found that 85% of professional success comes from people skills.

I’m just curious:

  1. What is your firm doing to improve the people skills of your lawyers?
  2. If your firm is doing nothing, what are you doing?