Posted on November 3, 2020 by Silvia Coulter
Be proactive with key stakeholders. This activity facilitates lawyer engagement (the ongoing biggest challenge identified by all BD surveys). The biggest complaint we hear from partners is the BD team is not proactive. Right or wrong, make it a point to build strong relationships with your internal clients. Nothing replaces that. Then recruit key partner(s) to support your critical initiatives.
Conduct client feedback interviews. When a specific project for a practice group or partner is completed, go to their office or schedule a 10-minute Zoom call and conduct an “after project feedback” call. Any input will go a long way to helping you build relationships and provide feedback to your team.
Turn non-responses into opportunities. Keep in mind lawyers are compensated to do work, bill work, and collect fees. The rest is done in their spare time, including important firm citizen roles on committees, and business development, or off-the-clock meetings for clients. If you need their input on something, go to their office or schedule a call. Make it easy for them to do business with the business development team.
Practice your pitches. For important practice groups, executive committees, or other firm meetings, practice your presentations to be as smooth as possible. We ask the lawyers to do this for client meetings, so doing the same for your internal client meetings will make things go smoother and further build your confidence.
Hand out compliments when appropriate. Send a hand-written note if you enjoyed working with a partner, or they did a good job presenting or running a client meeting. Everyone likes feedback, and lawyers seldom receive it from anyone. Everyone appreciates positive feedback in the form of compliments.
Keep in touch. It is critical to keep in touch with your network of peers, sponsors/vendors/suppliers, and others. Do not wait until you need them—that is insincere. Keep in touch at least once a year and not with an e-holiday card. Be genuine by making a call or sending an email to see how people in your network are doing. Create a list of 20-50 people you should be in touch with annually or more often.
Continue your education. Whether the firm pays for it or not, attend one program a year (writing skills, negotiating skills, presentation skills, etc.) to sharpen the skills you need to be good at what you do. Invest in yourself! Ask your team members to do the same. Ask your Professional Development team who they recommend and have outside consultant/trainers come in to train your team to sharpen skills. Be the best you can be at all times.
Connect with peers in commercial businesses who have your position. Build relationships with peers from accounting or other professional service firms that allow you to expand your network and, at the same time, will enable you to build opportunities for you to connect one another’s professionals for programming, writing, speaking, etc. Stay connected outside of your legal network to learn best practices you can bring back to your firm and present to partners.
Be happy. If you are, you will be your best. Take time for yourself—it is a demanding, busy industry we are in.
About the Author: Silvia Coulter is a Co-founding Principal of LawVision Group. Silvia Coulter is widely regarded as one of the legal industry’s most experienced business development and leadership consultants. Her experience includes working as a former strategic account executive and sales leader at a Fortune 50 company, a chief marketing, and business development officer at two global law firms, and consultant and facilitator to professional services firms across the globe. She was an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s College of Professional Studies in the Master’s in Law Firm Management program (2010-2019), a co-founder of the Legal Sales and Service Organization (www.legalsales.org), a Past Elected President of the Legal Marketing Association, and an elected Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. She is a frequent speaker and facilitator at professional service firm retreats and legal industry meetings. Silvia is the co-author of three books: The Woman Lawyer’s Rainmaking Game, Rainmaking Advantage, and SAM-Legal: From Key Clients to Strategic Accounts (due out 2020). For more information, please contact Silvia L. Coulter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-697-4869.