As silly as this may seem, this is exactly what, to us, a staggering number of lawyers are doing. In a buyer’s market, business development is hygiene, not earn-a-gold-star-if-you-occasionally-get-off-your-butt-and-do-something.
Throughout my 20 years as a sales coach to lawyers, about 80% of lawyers for whom their firms purchased unlimited coaching didn’t use it. Why? “Too busy to develop business.”
Because their firms accepted this argument, most made it with impunity. Big deal. It was during the Golden Age of Law Firms, as characterized by CitiGroup’s Dan DiPietro. Everybody was doing just fine, indeed, thank you.
Fast forward to 2009-2010, when, in response to The Great Recession, law firms went into Queen of Hearts mode, i.e., “Off with their heads!” Everything got slashed to the bone, including about 10,000 lawyers’ jobs. The message emerging was, “Everybody better start doing something to generate business. This time, we mean it. Really.”
Except, apparently, they don’t. Today, amazingly, complacency reigns supreme again. It’s as if those two years never happened.
Despite law firm management’s vociferous declarations that those with no business are in peril, out in the capillaries, lawyers behave as if they still believe that billable tasks obviate what should be a survival-driven focus on finding a way to make some type of contribution to revenue generation.
Here’s a specific example.
Fifty percent of lawyers whose firms selected them to take advantage of an offer of three months free business development training in exchange for feedback on the training program did nothing, and had the training offer rescinded. Their reason: “Too busy. Maybe next month.”
Don’t worry. The market will probably wait as long as you need it to. Oh, and please inform the Titanic’s captain that the deck chairs are beautifully arranged.
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