In the years it takes before your lawyering skills develop to where you can produce work product that clients will pay for, it doesn’t mean that you can’t deliver a different form of value and earn the attention of the partners who will decide which assignments go to which associates, and which ones they’ll devote time and attention to mentoring.
Lawyers are hard-wired to be precise in written and spoken expression, and while practicing law they honor that precision rigorously. However, when it comes to interacting with their market, their language discipline fades. Here are some common examples I encounter in my coaching conversations, with suggested alternatives.
Apparently, the "I want" disease is persistent. In my previous post, I shared my experience with a fellow named Steve, who contacted me April 22 and 24 via LinkedIn. Well, Steve clearly isn’t a ResultsMailVT subscriber, because since then he sent me three more LinkedIn communications, each one a poster child for the “I want” disease.
When it comes to communicating with Suspects and Prospects, lawyers suffer the same self-inflicted injuries that all salespeople do: causing recipients to shut down on you from the first moment of encounter because you’re talking about what you want.
Your friend introduced you to a colleague whom she believed to have a legal issue you could help with. You discussed whether she thought he would welcome your contact and how he might benefit from meeting with you. The introductory phone call went well, narrowing the focus on his current problem, and you agreed to meet to discuss it in depth. Here's what to do next.
Successful lawyers have many contacts willing to introduce them to prospects or others who can help them. Too many introductions are squandered because the lawyer being offered the introduction doesn’t manage the proffer properly. The result is a pleasant but vacuous meeting with no logical basis for continuity, where nothing gets accomplished, all at the cost of creating two new debts. Here's a better way.
When lawyers email a contact they consider a candidate to give them business, most extol their firm’s or their expertise and experience, or some solution they believe will persuasively cause the recipient to want that. Ironically, this approach causes the lack of progress that lawyers call me to coach them to overcome. Here's a better approach.
Despite the legal service business undergoing the greatest change in its history, the industry still clings to an outdated definition of relationships that doesn’t map to today’s reality. This includes our worldview of relationships. It’s time for us to invest in “idea relationships” and rethink our personal and professional ones.
As Lao Tzu, the Daoist philosopher, said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The problem with becoming a rainmaker is that we don’t know if the journey is 1000 miles, 100 miles, or more, or less. It turns out that nobody knows how long it takes law firm associates to develop business development skills. That means you should begin now. Here's how to take your first steps.
A lawyer who gains mastery over the practice of law isn’t necessarily guaranteed great success as a lawyer. Indeed, it depends what “success” means in this context. For many, success is measured by compensation, autonomy, professional freedom. As skilled as you may be as a lawyer, if you don’t generate significant amounts of business for yourself and other lawyers in your firm, then your earning potential is capped. You have a choice to make.
You have a call scheduled with a prospect, and you think it looks like a pretty good opportunity for a sale. You’re trying to decide how many, and which, of their colleagues to take with them. I’d like to say, “It depends,” but most of the time, it doesn’t. The default answer is “none.” Here's why, and what to do instead.
Despite the constant drumbeat in the legal press and within law firms, emphasizing the criticality of business development now -- no longer merely as the path to success, but now for mere survival -- too high a percentage of lawyers don’t take advantage of training and coaching offered by their firms. One theory that’s making sense to me is “delusions of adequacy.”
For most firms and lawyers, “BD training” is a catchall phrase that reflects a lack of awareness about learning and skill development. For reliable skill development and consistent application leading to measurable results, unbundle the learning mission into three stages: Education, Training, and Coaching.