Recently I wrote Client Development Coaching: You will learn what will work for you. A lawyer I coach read the post and asked me for examples she might borrow to find her own best approach.

I am an example of a lawyer who narrowed my focus to an industry. Seth Godin blogged about narrowing focus marketing approach in Un essaim de puces.

As you know, I began my client development efforts as a commercial litigator. I struggled to figure out how I could market myself. I was flailing away marketing to everyone. Unfortunately for me, there were several older and better known commercial litigators in my home town.

I changed my focus and narrowed my target market to highway and transportation construction contractors. It was by far the most important decision I made in my career. I actually widened my practice, to include contracts and every day advice. I narrowed my client base so I could be more valuable as a trusted advisor.

So, if you are marketing to everyone and not finding any success, you can narrow your focus to a smaller group, find a niche practice, or continue marketing to a wider audience. Whatever approach, use the tools, like blogging to widen your visibility.


Traction Snow.jpgA senior partner may have told you that you will be successful by just doing good work and your satisfied clients will tell others. In 2011, do you think that just doing good work is enough?

I meet with many lawyers who are doing good work for their senior partner’s clients, but they have not gotten any traction on developing business of their own. The sad truth is that in 2011, word of mouth from doing good work does not travel fast enough or far enough.

When I started practicing law, I was told: “Selling yourself is unprofessional. If you do good work, business will follow.” That is how I started. I tried very hard to learn, become the best lawyer I could possibly be, and do the highest quality of work. I advise every young lawyer to approach their career in the same way.

I wasn’t aware at the time that there was more to client and business development than becoming a top notch lawyer and doing high quality work. I figured out I needed to focus less on what I did -litigation- and focus more on what clients need -avoiding litigation and/or resolving it promptly and economically.

I also discovered that client development is all about building relationships and understanding the client’s point of view. Each client and client representative is unique. They have unique goals, unique challenges and unique perspectives. When you build trust and rapport with your clients, you have the chance to become a “The Trusted Advisor.” (If you haven’t read Trusted Advisor, you should.)

So, here in a nutshell are my two discoveries:

  1. You have to do more than high quality work to develop business.
  2. Change your focus from you, and what you do, to focusing on your clients and what they need.