"To be successful, you need to develop your own client base," advises a savvy law partner. "The marketing skills you need are generally not taught in law school. Find the marketing techniques that fit your personality.”
This was one of more than 200 verbatim comments in a survey of practicing lawyers who belong to the ABA, conducted for the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s recent New Partner and In-House Counsel Conference.
I've condensed their business development tips below into a dozen points of advice.
These partners are successful because they put time into building their practices. When asked how much time each month they spent on marketing or developing business, 60% of respondents said they spend at least the entirety of one day each week on business development. An impressive 15% said they spend more than two days of any given week completely invested to marketing and business development.
The partners placed critical importance on developing your own client base without delay, and to undertake some task of marketing every day.
1. “Active networking and long term affiliation with bar associations, as well as charitable board work.”
2. “Person-to-person lunch meetings with referral sources, for example doctors, CPAs, CFPs, brokers, bankers and other business persons.”
3. “ Business-focused events where service providers (including lawyers) are a clear minority of the participants.”
4. “Working with trade associations to draft legislation.” “Attending industry conferences. The key is to check out the attendee list in advance, make a target list of the people you want to talk to and not hanging out with attorneys from your own firm.”
5. “Get involved in charitable organizations you are passionate about. Your commitment there is the best advertising you can do.” “Being active in not for profit organizations has led to many relationships that have supported my practice.” “Social, community and charitable events, far more than bar or legal ones.”
6. “Being willing to answer ‘free,’ ‘quick’ questions on potential matters for referral and potential new clients.”
7. “Being available to consultants and other professionals who want to ‘run something by you’ that isn't billable.”
8. “Finding a professional organization relevant to my practice and being consistently active in that particular organization (i.e. not hopping from one organization to another).”
9. “Learning to listen....”
10. “Networking with foreign law firms through several international organizations.”
11. “Providing education to clients to make them less dependent upon lawyers.”
12. “Reading non-law, business management books and understanding the business side of law.”