Friday, August 30, 2013

Law Firms on Business Development

This fall I am working with several law firms.  I am leading programs on how to get the team more engaged in business development activities (or I am teaching a seminar on presentation skills for business).  I am excited about this, as when I launched my business in 2009 I had thought I would do about 40% of my work in the legal industry.  I had spent four years working inside two AM Law 100 firms (as business development and marking manager), and understand the unique challenges that lawyers face when it comes to networking, branding, sales, and business development.

However, the recession kept many firms from hosting internal partner retreats, section meetings, and associate educational programs.  When they did have these meetings, they did not hire as many outside consultants.  

In 2013 there is a renewed interest inside firms to get the team engaged (beyond just their practice).  Clearly lawyers must do great work, but a law firm is a business (some are small businesses, others are large businesses), and to succeed they must make new client acquisitions a priority.  Additionally, the business of law has become more competitive.... and firms that are sitting back hoping for clients to show up are not seeing growth.

With 2013 coming to a close there is a push for end of year meetings to get the firms focused on a new year.  It is these events where I bring extra value, as those who are serious about making changes to how they approach their relationship to their communities can make small tweaks that lead to big results.  

A meeting must have a clear desired outcome, or it is a waste of time and money.  While these firms retreats are fun (usually include golf, food and drinks), there must be an ongoing dialogue established that continues to impact the firm's culture into the future.  Results are not wishes!

Lawyers can be funny when it comes to the "business development" thing.  Some firms forbid consultants to use the word "Sales", as they think it is somehow a dirty word.  But any business owner will tell you that without sales, there is no business.  

My view is that lawyers are entrepreneurs, regardless of if they are in small or large firms.  The commitment and focus on business growth that successful entrepreneurs have must be the same for an attorney.  Both partners and associates are responsible for their own practice, and thus when they adopt a business owner mindset, they discover more opportunities. Lawyers can sell.

The most fun lawyers to work with are those who are excited to try new things and who embrace business development as the key to ensuring their practice has a bright future.  Firms that make "sales" a priority are seeing more work come in the doors. 

Many law firms are bullish on sales and business development this year, and it makes my work more rewarding.

Have A Great Day

thom singer
thom (at)

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