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Too many of lawyers' conversations with prospects and clients are thinly-veiled begging for work. Do you really want to be positioned as merely “another skilled lawyer with his hand out?” Instead, position yourself more advantageously by adopting a business problem that drives demand for your most valuable service.

Whenever people adopt children, pets, or a social cause, they immediately (and, perhaps, constantly) tell their families, friends and work associates. In the process, their identity changes with those listeners. A new element has become part of their lives, and those around them adjust their perceptions and expectations accordingly. “Bob the weekend athlete” becomes “Bob the new father.” The adopter will begin receiving different invitations, gifts and inquiries – all of which occur as a natural consequence of the perceived effect of their adoption.

This is the essence of positioning. You are what people associate you with.  

Adopt a business problem of consequence and talk about that all the time—with at least some of the passion you might exhibit in the more personal adoption example above. The difference is that instead of talking about it with a handful of co-workers around the water cooler, you’ll talk to thousands of people in industry publications and at events.

Over time clients, prospects, and contacts will come to associate you with that problem. Thus, “Bob the Corporate Finance lawyer” becomes “Bob the Trapped-Assets Wizard.” While every company of size with balance sheet problems already engages or at least knows many Corporate Finance lawyers, how many Trapped Assets Wizards do they likely know? Which description is more relevant to clients' and prospects' ongoing conversation?

When the internal conversation about trapped assets reaches the point where they decide they must take action to free up those assets for a more useful purpose, who do they already know in this context? You. They don’t know you or have a personal relationship with you, but if you’ve been banging the trapped-assets drum consistently and usefully, they have a relationship with your ideas.

Adopt a demand-triggering business problem. Make it your own. Make it easy for strangers who have that problem to associate you with it and find you when they start to feel like the Cost of Doing Nothing is getting too high to tolerate any longer.

Mike O’Horo


Are you frustrated with the modest results of your business development efforts, but don’t know what to do differently? You’re not alone. Many lawyers are in the same boat. That’s because the methods of the pre-2008 seller’s market can’t work in today’s buyer’s market. To see how to align your efforts with today’s conditions and produce real results, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me.