The June Jobs Report revealed that the legal industry lost another 2600 jobs last month. This is great news for lawyers who want to become rainmakers.

Say what?!

You heard me…and yes, this is the glass-half-full portion of our program.

Most lawyers freaking out.  In the last few years, business has dried up.  They've seen friends and relatives fired from law firms.  They realize that demand for legal services is on the decline, while there is a vast oversupply of lawyers in the U.S.

Forward-thinking lawyer friends and clients, though, understand that this is all great news for the next generation of business developers.  On numerous occasions, we've discussed the fact that there’s been a 20-year seller’s market where demand for quality lawyers outweighed the supply.  It’s not difficult to make rain when 100 lawyers are chasing 150 cases.  In the early years of a Seller’s Market, showing up is not half the battle; it’s the entire battle.  Just a few years ago, my lawyer friends were whining about being born too late to have gobbled up all the low-hanging fruit that was ripe for the picking for two decades.

In a Buyer’s Market, however, when 150 lawyers are chasing 100 cases, you can’t earn first-mover advantage by just showing up, being persistent, and telling folks about the product (you).  It doesn’t work anymore.  As a matter of fact, that kind of product-centric approach almost guarantees failure today. 

What forward-thinking lawyers recognize, however, is that it’s now become an even playing field.  Even the top rainmakers at the biggest firms will have to learn how to sell all over again.  Over the next five years, only the lawyers who learn to sell in a client-centric manner will be the ones differentiating themselves among a sea of look-a-like competitors.

Don’t believe me?  Try it yourself.

At your next few “lawyer-heavy” networking events, follow these four guidelines religiously:

  1. Speak only of outcomes. Don't talk about you or your capabilities to a prospective client, unless he or she specifically asks. Even then, speak only of outcomes.
  2. Avoid discussing your self-interest, i.e., anything that is even a distant cousin to the idea, “Hire me.”
  3. Talk about novel business issues and hypothesize about problems that will result (“It seems like the News Corp scandal is going to force all media organizations to spend considerably more money on oversight of their investigative journalists…”). Don’t talk about current legal issues in your area.
  4. Contribute something relevant and useful. Act as if you’ve already been hired.

Very soon, you’ll find that prospective clients are being far more receptive to you than to many of the more established lawyers in your field.  You’ll differentiate yourself from other lawyers by coming across as un-threatening, by sounding like an industry insider, and by eliminating all of the distasteful behaviors clients associate with lawyers hunting for business.

Mike O'Horo

RainmakerVT online business development training will help you develop the skills you need to compete and win under today's competitive conditions.