Dead Man Walking.jpeg

The title of Tim Robbins’ 1995 film quickly became part of the business lexicon, where it refers toan employee certain to be fired in the near future.  The operative word is “certain.”

The term now applies equally — albeit harshly — to lawyers who fail to develop a reliable pipeline of clients.

Some may think this description unduly melodramatic.  After all, nobody is literally going to die — physically, at least.  But, professionally and economically?  Absolutely.

If you have no business of your own, here’s the future:

  • Annual compensation cuts, as your firm redistributes your income to satisfy the increasing financial demands of star partners it cannot risk losing
  • Demotion to non-equity status, which makes you a partner in name only
  • Losing assignments to younger, lower-cost lawyers to satisfy clients’ cost-reduction demands
  • As the LPO trend grows, some of your potential work will go offshore
  • Technology will displace still more potential work
  • With great regret, your colleagues will find it necessary to become former colleagues

I’m sure this is beyond unpopular for me to say.  But it’s the truth.

Over the past 10 years, little by little, without much attention, lawyers without clients have seen their standing in their firms spiral downward inexorably.  At first, affected partners merely saw a halt to compensation growth; theirs remained flat while others’ grew.  Their points shrunk, redistributed to colleagues who brought in business.  Because they plateaued well into six figures, they garnered little sympathy.  And, to casual observers, they were still partners.  Increasingly, that was in title only.

Completely dependent on the firm's rainmakers for their work and hours, they became marginalized, their opinions or concerns about firm decisions largely ignored.  After awhile, that dependency earned them a category name: “service partners.”  Although not to their faces.

Like the death row inmate whose appeals are exhausted, making execution a certainty, lawyers without clients are on a path whose destination is known.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take all that long to begin generating clients and work that not only protects you economically, but that you enjoy.  Marketing and sales are known processes; there’s no mystery.  All you have to do is begin, then don’t stop.

To get a taste of a private, painless, affordable way to get a reliable return from the time you spend at networking events, experience our networking event trainingYou’ll arrive at a simulated networking event in our virtual world, where you’ll learn by doing. You’ll manage an avatar through a series of “say/do” decisions that take you from standing in the doorway to having scheduled a meeting about a specific problem you can solve with someone you met at that event.