Several years ago,  a lawyer I had coached came to advise other lawyers in her firm how to get the most out of our coaching program.

She told them to focus on the three Ps.

  • Persistence,
  • Perseverance and
  • Patience

I know from experience that lawyers who focus on the three Ps are more concerned with learning how to become better at client development than they are with getting early results.

I know many lawyers who are focused on results rather than focused on striving to get better. They fear failure to such a degree that they are unwilling to get outside their comfort zone.

They are not learning about how to become better at client development. Instead they are focused on techniques that may help them get business from the low hanging fruit. When their efforts do not produce results, they give up.

What should you do instead? Work on getting better at things that are outside your comfort zone.

If you want to learn how to network, go to events where you can practice. In fact, go to a networking event and approach strangers and introduce yourself.

If you want to become a better public speaker, speak in public. Consider joining a Toastmasters International club, or starting your own speaking club.

If you want to become a better writer, write articles or blog posts and have someone review them and offer a critique. There are plenty of retired editors and senior lawyers, who would gladly critique your writing.

Finally, remember the three P’s: Persistence, Perseverance and Patience.

Recently I was asked:

How long did it take before you had any results from your client development efforts?

I responded that it was at least two years and maybe more. I was then asked how I stuck with it when I was seeing no results. I responded that I guessed I wanted to develop my niche practice badly enough that I was willing to be persistent.

What does it mean to be persistent? I always look to words to inspire me. Let me share some with you.

Winston Churchill had a pretty good idea. He said:

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

I have always liked what Calvin Coolidge once said about the importance of persistence:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

If neither Churchill or Coolidge inspire you, perhaps Jimmy V can do it. Watch this short video clip from his ESPY award speech:

If you are a regular reader, you know that when I was a teenager I first read Napoleon Hill’s book. “Think and Grow Rich.” The book is really about what it takes to be successful. The title comes from the fact it was published during the depression, so the focus is on making money as a measure of success.

In the book, Napoleon Hill lists symptoms of a lack of persistence. Have you ever experienced any of these?

  1.  Failure to recognize and to clearly define exactly what one wants.
  2. Procrastination, with or without cause. (Usually backed up with a formidable array of alibis and excuses).
  3. Lack of interest in acquiring specialized knowledge.
  4. Indecision, the habit of “passing the buck” on all occasions, instead of facing issues squarely. (Also backed by alibis).
  5. The habit of relying upon alibis instead of creating definite plans for the solution of problems.
  6. Self-satisfaction. There is little remedy for this affliction, and no hope for those who suffer from it.
  7. Indifference, usually reflected in one’s readiness to compromise on all occasions, rather than meet opposition and fight it.
  8. The habit of blaming others for one’s mistakes, and accepting unfavorable circumstances as being unavoidable.
  9. WEAKNESS OF DESIRE, due to neglect in the choice of MOTIVES that impel action.
  10. Willingness, even eagerness, to quit at the first sign of defeat. (Based upon one or more of the 6 basic fears).
  11. Lack of ORGANIZED PLANS, placed in writing where they may be analyzed.
  12. The habit of neglecting to move on ideas, or to grasp opportunity when it presents itself.
  13. WISHING instead of WILLING.
  14. The habit of compromising with POVERTY instead of aiming at riches. General absence of ambition to be, to do, and to own.
  15. Searching for all the short-cuts to riches, trying to GET without GIVING a fair equivalent, usually reflected in the habit of gambling, endeavoring to drive “sharp” bargains.
  16. FEAR OF CRITICISM, failure to create plans and to put them into action, because of what other people will think, do, or say. This enemy belongs at the head of the list, because it generally exists in one’s subconscious mind, where its presence is not recognized.

One final thought before I let you go: Have you read or listened to the book: Unbroken? I have not seen the movie, but I loved the book. If you haven’t, I urge you to read or listen to it.

I cannot picture how I would have ever been resilient enough to endure what Louis Zamperini did. He is an inspiration for us all. He passed away at 97 last year. You can watch this CBS segment to learn more about him: Remembering the “Unbroken” spirit of Louis Zamperini.


Some young lawyers I meet are very impatient. One associate I coached a couple of years ago sent me an email after one month of coaching. Here is what she said:

Cordell, I have been doing everything we talked about when we had our first coaching session and everything you talked about to our coaching group and I haven’t gotten a new client yet. Am I being too hard on myself?

I let her know that if she had actually gotten a new client in a month, she needed to take my place. I should also tell you that she stuck with it and is now a partner in her firm.

I experienced frustration when I was a young lawyer. I had put my heart and soul into my business development and had not gotten results. Many times I wondered whether it was worth all the time I was putting in. A couple of senior lawyers in my firm routinely put my efforts down. I think they just wanted me to work on their clients. I also realized that some of my efforts were not fruitful.

I kept on because I wanted to control my own destiny and not be dependent on senior lawyers. Whenever I got discouraged I pictured myself five years later with $500,000 in business. I also made client development a habit and tried to do something no matter how small each and every day. There came a time about two years after I started to see results. Then I discovered that each of my client development efforts built on previous efforts I had made.

Here is something to consider. I believe that less than 3% of young lawyers are making focused efforts at client development. If you are one of the 3% and you are frustrated that you are not seeing results yet, that is ok.  Think about why you are frustrated. It is because you are not content being average. The fact you are frustrated, just as I was many years ago, is the reason you will be successful.

When I experienced the impatience you are experiencing, I did two things:

  • I evaluated each of my efforts and decided which ones were not effective.
  • I just tried harder.