What Is the Best Way to Develop Business?


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People In Law School Believe Billing Lots Of Hours, Working Hard And Doing Quality Work Are The Important Components Of A Successful Law Firm Career. Young Lawyers Learn That Generating Business Is Just As Important As Doing First-Rate Work.

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What Is the Best Way to Develop Business?

  1. 1. RECRUITER Q & A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCH What Is the Best Way to Develop Business? [By A. Harrison Barnes] When people are in law school, and even during their first few years out of law school, they come to believe that the most important components of a successful law firm career include 1) billing lots of hours (i.e., working hard) and 2) doing quality work. Very rapidly, however, young lawyers learn that generating business for their firms is just as important as doing first-rate work.This article will examine the most effective software company in California? What if the Some of the best sources of futuremethods attorneys can use to generate auto insurance salesman is the 21-year-old business for most attorneys are thebusiness. In many respects, this may be son of the CEO of a major American insurance groups of people with whom they workedone of the most important articles you ever company? What if one’s former “biggest early in their careers, including groups ofread. Your success in generating clients enemy” is the owner of a major company that peers they met in college, at law school,and business will in large part determine does work for businesses in the pre-IPO stage? and while working for various employers.your eventual success as an attorney. More Make sure you treat everyone you come When I was practicing law, I received hundredsimportant than your success as an attorney, into contact with as if he or she could be a of thousands of dollars in business from a clienthowever, is your security as an attorney. future client. who I met in one of these ways, and I heardHaving a lot of business is essential to enjoying stories about people getting business fromsecurity because it ensures you will always • Do not take your relatives for granted. clients they met under similar circumstances.have work to do. Moreover, having work to Relatives can often be great sources of Each of these clients, if properly served, coulddo will allow you to hire others to work for business. Relatives love to tell people you have made the career of the attorney involved.you, build your organization, and further your are a lawyer-or even hire you to do legal Millions of dollars in fees could have beencareer. Ultimately, having a lot of work to do work. Always treat them well. collected. All of these attorneys went on towill lead to opportunities for success. high-paying, ultra-prestigious law firms based • Do not take your former employers forRemember That Every Person You Meet May on their work for these clients. granted.Potentially Be in a Position to Become a Client. Your former employers (and all of the No matter what you do or who you meet, you people working for them) will move to need to realize there are potential clientsOne of the largest mistakes attorneys-and even other employers and potentially be in everywhere for you and/or your firm. It doeslaw students-make is not realizing that every positions to give you business. Your not matter whether you are at an ultra-single person they ever meet is someone who former employers may also come across expensive and prestigious law firm, at ais in or will be in a position to be a client. He cases and other work they do not want to smaller law firm, or practicing on your own.or she might even be in a position to become handle that you can handle. Whatever the Every time you meet someone, you shoulda client right now. Many attorneys believe case, you need to realize that your former consider him or her a potential client. How youthat they are being “smart” by sizing people employers are people who are in positions treat others will also determine whether theyup and trying to figure out whether they could to give you a great deal of work. Do not are likely to become your clients in the future.be potential clients. They may assume, for burn bridges. Make sure your former Take no one for granted.example, that the janitors in their buildings employers are always your advocates.could never be their clients. They may assume • Do not take any vendors you deal with for They may one day send business yourthat people who sell them auto insurance could granted. way, and they will talk about you to othersnever be their clients. They may assume that Your dry cleaner, the person who mows who can also bring you business.those who were once their biggest enemies your lawn, the mechanic who fixes your car-could never be their clients. anyone you can imagine-is someone who is • Do not take your superiors for granted. a potential source of business for you. If you do a good enough job of impressingHowever, what if the janitor’s son went to your superiors, they can be great sourcesHarvard Law School and is now the general • Do not take your peers or subordinates of future business for the same reasonscounsel of a major publicly traded computer for granted.PAGE continued on back
  2. 2. RECRUITER Q A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCH your former employers can. Always go When the event ended, I watched as one ago? Consider what would have happened to above and beyond the call of duty. audience member after another went up to this attorney had he really been interesting! the lawyer and told him that he or she enjoyed Even after delivering a mind-numbing lecture,Take no one for granted. Treat everyone you his talk, asked him for a business card, and he got a lot of business. You need to speak toencounter-both at work and elsewhere-as a expressed interest in discussing one issue get business, too, and I urge you to speak a lotgood source of business. or another related to his or her particular and often about what you do. franchise with him. The lawyer must haveTalk about Your Work. picked up more than 10 clients that day. Right One of the most effective marketing lines I then and there, I realized that something very have ever heard is “You can build a betterAbout 10 years ago, I was in Charlottesville, VA, significant had occurred: everyone presumed mousetrap, but if the world does not knowin a hotel ballroom watching an attorney from the lawyer was good at what he did and was about it, they will beat a path right arounda large, very prestigious Southern law firm give eager to hire him as an attorney simply because your door.” People need to know what you do,a three-hour PowerPoint presentation entitled he had spoken so much about his work. and they need to believe you care about what“Developments in Franchising Law.” Every you do. That is why businesses put up ads onlocal owner of a Burger King, McDonald’s, If you want to generate business, you need to giant billboards along the highway. Some evenSubway, or other franchise had apparently talk about your work. People need to see you put up multiple billboard ads saying thingsturned out for this bizarre event. (I was as an expert and believe you are very good like “Only 4 more exits until the best greenrequired to attend the presentation to fulfill a at what you do. People need to believe they pea soup in Ohio!!” and “Last exit before therequirement for a class on franchising law that can turn to you for advice about what they are best green pea soup in Ohio!!” People getI happened to be taking at the time.) doing and also need to believe that you are enthusiastic about something as mundane as enthusiastic about what you are doing. green pea soup because the restaurant sellingI call the event “bizarre” because it was very it talks about it. You, too, should talk aboutfunny. The speaker was in his mid-60s-an When you think about it, the people you want your work in a way that gets people excited.older, Southern-gentleman type of lawyer to turn to for assistance are most likely Set a Good Example.wearing a bowtie. His lecture was so boring those who seem the most enthusiastic aboutand his material so dry and irrelevant I could what they are doing. You need to realize that Setting a good example means walking thescarcely believe I was alive as I sat there demonstrating enthusiasm is likely to attract walk and talking the talk of the sort of attorneylistening to him. The lawyer also seemed very people to you. Writing articles is one example people want to be represented by. This isbored by the subject matter he was delivering. of a good way to show enthusiasm. Giving exceptionally important. Others need toIn fact, there were several points at which I public talks is another example. believe you are an attorney who will effectivelyhad to hold myself back from laughing because represent them and always look out for theirI was so bored. Other members of my class Talking about your work goes deeper than best interests.reached a point where they were afraid to simply writing articles or giving talks, however.make eye contact with one another for fear Talking about your work means getting At the outset, I should note that I have twothey, too, would break into hysterics. enthusiastic about your work with everyone you qualifications that have prepared me to write encounter. Talk about your work with people in this article: I have been an attorney withIncredibly, all of the local owners of the your office. Talk about your work with clients- business, and I am now involved in hiringfranchises who had been invited to this event just keep talking! outside counsel for various companies. Thereappeared to be paying attention the whole are several issues clients are likely to betime and were the only ones (besides the The reason talking about your work is so concerned about when hiring you.law students) who made the effort to appear important is that people remember those whointerested in what the speaker was saying. are enthusiastic about their work. This applies One of the most important issues clients areOver hors d’oeuvres during the break, I to both potential clients and your peers. You likely to be concerned about is the level ofspoke with the owner of the local JaniClean want to be remembered by everyone you come honesty they perceive you to have. I knowfranchise, as well as the owner of another local into contact with as someone who enjoys that I would never want to hire an attorneyfranchise, and realized that no one seemed to talking about his or her work. who seemed the least bit dishonest. You wanthave any idea what this old lawyer was talking to know that the person recording his or herabout. They all agreed, though, that he must Remember the boring attorney I went to hear hours spent working on your behalf is someonereally be on top of his material. talk about franchising law a decade or more who tells the truth.PAGE continued
  3. 3. RECRUITER Q A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCHWhen I was practicing law, I knew of at least a People want to be assisted by those who care lot of work for others in the past, the factcouple of attorneys who fabricated hours, one about their problems, which means you need that it had good people working for it-andof whom was a high-ranking partner in a law to be interested in what you are working on. telling me what I needed. He never gavefirm that I worked in (which will go unnamed). The more interested you are in the work you me the opportunity to say a single thingI remember an associate who worked all are doing, the better your work is likely to be. about what was important to me. Basedweekend, completed an assignment at 7:00 on this encounter, I ended up not using thea.m. after being awake since Friday night, and If you are interested in the work you are company’s services.then went to change and take a shower. When doing, you will tend to seek out others andhe returned a few hours later and went into the provide them with advice. People will also be The people we are most interested in andoffice of a partner to discuss the assignment more receptive to your advice because they like the most are the people who are mosthe had put on his chair that evening, he saw will realize that you truly care about what you interested in us. When you are interesteda timesheet that indicated the partner had are saying. in other people, you make them feelassisted with the brief all weekend, working acknowledged and understood. Showingsome 25 hours. But the partner had not When you cultivate interest in others and their interest in other people also leads them toworked over the weekend at all. Would you legal issues, you will develop a mindset that believe you are interesting. Being interested inwant to hire a partner like this to do any work will lead you to speak up when issues arise other people is crucial to generating businessfor you, ever? that you can assist with. You will also do your effectively. best to listen to what others have to say, takingAnd the issue goes much deeper than this. the time to understand their issues. Attorneys exist to serve others. LearnIf, as an attorney, you are dishonest at all in everything you can about your clients andyour personal (or work life), the least that Understanding other people’s problems is potential clients. The more you know, thewill happen is that word will get out. People something very few attorneys are good at-or more you can assist them with-or at least offerwant to deal with those who are honest. Your even know how to do. When you take the your assistance with-the potential work andclients will ask those who know you whether time to listen and ensure that you understand business they have to offer.you are honest-and they will usually get where people are coming from, they will behonest opinions. grateful. In addition, when you take the time Get Out! (And Form Relationships.) to understand what others’ problems are, theyAnother example that comes to mind is the will feel invested in you. When people feel If you do not start somewhere, you will be“partying” attorney who takes clients out for invested in you, they want to work with you nowhere. In order to generate businesswild, substance-packed evenings. No one more closely. as an attorney, you need to get out andwants an attorney who is out of control or does meet people and push yourself beyond yournot handle himself or herself in a respectable Allow your clients (or potential clients) to comfort zone. You need to learn how toway at all times. Clients want attorneys who are speak at length. Doing so will pay off in the break down the boundaries of formality andlikely to do the best work possible at all times. form of huge dividends. form relationships with people beyond yourWhen you think about most successful immediate sphere of influence.organizations that have been around a A few years ago, I was speaking with along time, it is very easy to see that these branding firm about doing some work for one If you are a young associate, remember, itorganizations tend to look for reliable of the Juriscape companies. At that point, I will be very difficult to ever build a book ofpeople who are not particularly mercurial only had two bids, and both companies had business if the only people you know are thoseand who seem very competent. Companies quoted me roughly the same price: $250,000. you have met through work. You must get outlook for people with these qualities because The company that was originally my first and meet people outside of work. This meansthey need them in order to run their choice was invited to come by my office to going to events where attorneys are likely tobusinesses successfully. meet with me. I had several concerns I be present, and it also means going to events wanted to speak about. I never really got where you are likely to stand out because youBehave at all times as you would want your the opportunity to speak, though, because are an attorney.own attorney to behave. the representative from this company spent the entire meeting speaking about what was There are millions of potential social situationsCultivate Interest in Others and Their important to his firm-the fact that it was you can inject yourself into. It is important thatLegal Issues. a big company, the fact that it had done a you get involved in as many social situationsPAGE continued on back
  4. 4. RECRUITER Q A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCHoutside of work as you possibly can. These when consumers queried search engines for If you are going to generate business, you needsocial situations will give you opportunities information about specific products. Think to be familiar. Once you get clients, you needto meet new people and make connections. about it. If you need a birdcage and search for to stay familiar.The people you meet may have the ability to a birdcage supplier, you will want to go withrefer others to you-or they may not. However, the business that specializes in birdcages. In Study Marketing.if you do not get to know people, you simply fact, this might be the only business you need Read articles and books about marketing.will not get business. So get out and form to contact. Find marketing seminars that interest you andrelationships! attend them. Get as interested in this subject If you need an attorney to help you with franchise matter as you can.Specialize. law regulations, you are likely to use the one who appears to be an expert in franchising, especially I always recommend that people studyYou need to specialize. An attorney with a if there is only one attorney in your area who marketing in ways that suit them. Only readspecialty is likely to get more work related to specializes in this area. the information about marketing you arehis or her specialty when it becomes available. interested in. The more you study marketing,People will come to you because they consider The specialist usually gets the business. the better you will become at putting itsyou to be an expert. If you want to get work, figure out how to principles into practice. Every form of make yourself and your practice appear as marketing can translate into methods forThere are many ways to specialize. If you specialized as possible. acquiring legal clients. For instance, readingspecialize in litigation, that is a start. If you about copywriting may assist you with writingspecialize in representing manufacturers Be Familiar. letters to potential clients. The effort you putof disposable lighters that are defective and into studying marketing will definitely pay off,injure people, that is probably even better. In order to get people to choose you as their and the benefits you receive will most likely far attorney and do business with you, you are outweigh the time you put in.As an attorney, you also need to put on your going to need to be familiar-very familiar.marketing hat. Being a good marketer means This means making phone calls to people on Don’t Quit.making yourself visible and easy to contact. their birthdays. This means sending frequentIf you are good at what you do and you are letters informing them of updates. This means One big client (or several) can change your lifespecialized, people will find you. forwarding them articles of interest. This and your entire practice of law. You need to means going out of your way to let people know implement a strategy that keeps you resilientThere was a period from around 1997 until you are available. and always looking for clients. You may notroughly the middle of 2000 when seemingly think you are good at marketing, but chancesanyone with a decent idea could make some It does not take a ton of effort to let people are you can be. Some of the busiest attorneysmoney on the Internet. This time has been know you are there for them, but in order to do out there are also the biggest nerds and/orreferred to as a period of Internet “land so, it is important to make contact with them social misfits you’ll ever meet. Some of thegrabbing,” and people were making great as often as possible. busiest attorneys are also very introverted. Insums of money. Notwithstanding, during this order to get business, however, you are goingsame period of time, most people were losing When I was a young attorney, I was so eager to need to start somewhere. And you cannotgreat sums of money. So what was so special to get clients and gain business that I sought give up. Some relationships take years toabout the people who were successful? out the motivational guru for attorneys looking develop. If you try one strategy and it does not to get business. His process involved nothing work, then try another.The few people who were making money were more than having people write down thesetting up small businesses on the Internet names of everyone they knew and consistently Conclusionsselling simple, specialized products. They make contact with them. It was believed thatwere selling birdcages; they were selling you could get lots of work by using this simple The attorneys who are the very best atreplacement batteries for cell phones; they method. Making sure people know who you generating business may hardly practice law atwere selling cases for PalmPilots and other are is essential. Some years later, I read a all. The illustrious retired senator or judge maysimilar knick-knacks. The people selling book called The Referral of a Lifetime, which be better known for maintaining an extensivethese kinds of things were making money describes a similar sort of system. (This book and valuable name cache and demonstratingin the early days of the Internet because is very good, and I recommend it highly-it will business-generating ability than for his or herthey were the ones whose names popped up help you get clients.) desire or ability to practice law.PAGE continued
  5. 5. RECRUITER Q A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCHI want to bring up a final point that is pretty they had no business. Their houses were of business, you will be at the mercy of yourdisturbing, and I hope it will change your unkempt, and they were in financial trouble. firm for your entire career. Your firm will belife. When I first became a legal recruiter- When I met them, I could clearly see that they able to pay you what it wants to and will be ableand subsequently became known as a lacked confidence and felt demoralized. to let you go if it wants to. And when a firmvery good one-I started getting inordinate lets a partner with no business go, that partnernumbers of calls and requests for meetings Every day, partners with no or very little often has no place to turn because most firmswith partners in law firms who wanted to business in law firms all across the United only want to hire partners with business.move. In order for legal recruiters to place States call BCG Attorney Search looking Going in-house is not always easy, either.partners, the partners generally need to for new jobs. The BCG Attorney Searchhave enough business to sustain themselves recruiters know of many partners with no You might as well know that the most(generally three to four times as much as business working in firms throughout the important thing you can do as an attorney,their anticipated salaries) and long histories cities in which they practice. In the majority in terms of your career, is develop a lot ofof having this much business. Therefore, a of cases, these partners are eventually told business. Your life and happiness in yourpartner making $300,000 a year will need to they need to be out of their firms within work will largely depend on how well you dohave $1,000,000 in business, in most cases. specified periods of time. The consequences this. If you do not do this, you will eventually,This is just the way it is. can be dramatic and painful. Because I have somewhere down the road, find yourself in very seen the results of this, and because it is so serious trouble-or simply exploited and at theA lot of the calls I received were from partners sad that it has affected me personally, I have mercy of your employer until you retire.who had no business or very little business. started numerous companies besides BCGMost of these partners had children in school Attorney Search to help attorneys like this and Follow the advice in this article. Go out andand had been practicing for more than 25 others get jobs. get business. The success of your careeryears. In many cases, I talked to partners in depends on it.major AmLaw 100 law firms who were being The point I want to make is that if you do notpaid less than first-year associates because work hard to generate considerable amountsPAGE