Aesop_ Hercules & the Waggoner.jpg

With an apology to Aesop, we'll adapt his moral from Hercules and the Waggoner to offer business development advice for 21st-century lawyers.

Two articles from a few years ago, taken together, declare that a) It's dangerous not to have the skills to get one's own clients; and b) AmLaw lawyers make a lot of money. So, what's the connection?

The AmLaw Daily offers "Survey: Generally Content, New Partners Fear Lack of Training Will Hamper Ability to Win Clients." The salient point:

While almost all of the 440 survey respondents said they expect their ability to develop business—one of the key metrics against which partners are measured—to figure prominently in their professional futures, many also said they had received little training on that front. As one new partner put it: 'I learned how to practice law, but I was not trained in how to develop business.'

Client development vs. expense cutting

In a report released by LexisNexis and Am Law Daily affiliate ALM Legal Intelligence, 'Thinking Like Your Client: Strategic Planning in Law Firms,' nine out of 10 leaders of AmLaw 200–size firms said their firms have partners at risk of being de-equitized or 'put on performance plans.' As one firm leader responding to that survey said ominously: 'Our attorneys need to be become client development experts rather than expense-cutting experts.'"

The American Lawyer gives us "Unlocking the Mystery," its comparison of equity- and non-equity partner compensation. The gist is that non-equity partners’ comp is anywhere from 28-58% of that of equity partners, which AmLaw concludes, “At some firms that can mean a whole lot of money.”

Anxiety about the future

So, we have a bunch of partners, making a bunch of money, expressing anxiety about their futures if they don’t have clients, and decrying their firms’ lack of business development training.

Nowhere is there even a hint that those who claim to be so concerned with getting training might (gasp!) invest some of their admittedly generous compensation to buy the business development training they claim to want and need.

It's certainly easier to blame Dad and Mom (a.k.a. their firms) for not providing it. Granted, they’re correct that a wise firm would provide such mission-critical training, but if it doesn’t, you have to decide: Are you willing to remain vulnerable to the professional and economic risks described, or solve the problem yourself?

The good news is that the cost of most types of training has come down, and online virtual training is less than many of you spend at Starbucks each month. 

So, as Aesop’s narrator urged, stop waiting for divine intervention and put your shoulder to the wheel.

Mike O'Horo

RainmakerVT is the most innovative, effective, convenient and affordable business development training you can get. In 15-30-minute chunks, available from any computer or tablet 24/7, each course teaches you a concrete, practical skill you can apply right now, to the immediate challenge in front of you.

Take a look at our course catalog, and then read what lawyers like you said about RainmakerVT in user-feedback interviews.