I asked 100 Managing Partners, PGLs, CMOs, and BDOs what percentage of their BD training was wasted on lawyers who didn’t take it seriously, didn’t consult with their coaches before interacting with their markets or prospects, and generally abandoned the investment. Their estimates varied widely, with a high of 90% and a low of 30%, with a huge concentration at 80%, which matches my own observations among the thousands of lawyers I’ve trained over the past 25 years.

In preparation for my presentation at one of their annual meetings, ALA asked two questions of its membership:

  1. How do you select which lawyers you'll invest in BD training and coaching?
  2. What percentage of those training/coaching dollars do you think are wasted by lawyers who don't stick with and apply the training, or make proper use of coaching?

What % is wasted?

As you see, we had a few outliers who thought that none, or all, of their investment was wasted, and about a quarter of you said you had no idea how much was wasted.

I broke up the remainder roughly into thirds. Even at the low end, you think that between a quarter and a third is wasted. In the middle, about half, and at the top end, as discouraging 70-90%.



Selection criteria

Your responses to how lawyers are chosen boiled down to four main strategies:

  1. Associates
  2. Everyone
  3. Interested
  4. Other

As you see, how you choose the lawyers doesn't really influence the waste rate. The firm has more authority over Associates, so it's no surprise that their percentage is lower, although it's still half, which is surprising.

Opt-out % by selection criteria.jpg

For those who take the egalitarian approach and claim to offer training everyone, I suspect our definitions of training will differ. I wonder how many of these firms are providing serious, sustained training and coaching versus periodic classes, webinars, or retreat programs. In any event, they think that two thirds of their money is wasted.

Most interesting to me are the results for those who provide training to lawyers who expressed interest in having it. They think that four out of five of the lawyers who said they wanted training wasted it. 

"Other" is a mashup of criteria that I've seen firms apply over the past 25 years:

  • show potential, or
  • have some results, or
  • sponsored by partners, or
  • who have what is deemed a BD-friendly personality.

As you can see, this is about as effective as giving the training to everyone.

From all this, is it fair to conclude that, so far, nobody has been able to predict with any reliability which lawyers are the best bets for training/coaching investment?