Some Business Development Tips for Attorneys

Many attorneys would be surprised to hear what we at SMR Legal Search find to be one of the most important determinants regarding how much business they will develop.  It is the law firm that they work for.

We work with many attorneys who have not been able to build up their book of business to where they would like it to be.  When speaking with them about the reasons why, the following law firm related reasons are the top ones provided to us: no cross marketing opportunities available at their current law firm, no marketing support from the powers that be at the firm. Time and time again, those are the reasons that are given to us.  Therefore, when choosing a firm to work at, it is very important to ascertain whether the law firm has the necessary practice areas and whether the attorneys willingly cross market rather than viewing each other as competitors.  In addition, you need to find out whether the firm provides the attorneys with a marketing budget and how the hours that they spend engaging in business development are treated.  Finally, you will need to find out whether the more senior partners will allow junior partners and associates to interact with and manage their clients. Very frequently, you will not be able to get the true answers to these questions unless you work with a legal recruiter who works frequently with and is very knowledgeable about the law firms in your geographical area.

Once you have gotten the proper information and made your way to a law firm that is conducive to legal client development, here are some suggestions on how to make rain.  As a legal recruiter, I have done much client development over the years.  I have found that while it is always important to go to networking events, building relationships is the best way to make contacts that will convert into business.  What I mean by this is that you must join groups and actually attend them regularly and get to know the people in them.  It is best if these are groups with other people whom you have something in common with , be it the same practice area, interest in the same charity or other non-profit organization or even a business networking group that meets regularly.  When you meet with people regularly and make an effort to get to know them, they are more likely to refer or introduce you to someone who will convert into business.

In networking, your focus should always be on how you can help the other person, be it something as simple as a restaurant or dry cleaner recommendation and as important as referring business to them.  When the other person sees that you genuinely want to help them, they will want to help you.  And if they are not able to help you, you have done a good deed.

Map out time in your schedule each week for legal client development.  If weekly business development sounds a bit too cumbersome for you, understand that it can be as simple as reconnecting with a couple of old friends, schoolmates, coworkers or clients.  Or if you have more time, make it your business to join a networking or charitable group with regular meetings and map that out in your schedule.  Business development should always be something that you are thinking about.

Always provide excellent service to your current clients.  I have learned from experience that the best way to obtain new clients is to provide excellent service to your current clients.  In addition to the fact that you should always strive to do your best work and provide excellent service to your clients, they will remember and refer you to their friends and colleagues.

Keep in touch with your former clients and see how they are doing and if there is anything that you may do to help them, even if you will not make a dime on that.  In that way, you will be top of mind, and they will want to help you as well, be it give their own work to you or think of you when a friend asks for a good attorney recommendation.  In addition, it is just a nice thing to do.

I hope that these tips will help you, and I will provide additional legal business development tips in some of my future blog articles.  Happy Rainmaking!

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4 Responses to “Some Business Development Tips for Attorneys”

  1. Barry Goldman Says:

    It is such important advice to find out the opportunities for client development at a firm before accepting a position. Myself and too many of my friends have found out the hard way that lack of marketing support at a firm can lead to becoming an of counsel or junior partner with very minimal portable business. This really is great advice and attorneys should heed it!

  2. Lalita Haran Says:

    I liked this article.

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