GPSolo Magazine - July/August 2005
The Woman Laywer’s Rainmaking Game, By Silvia L. Coulter
The Woman Lawyer’s Rainmaking Game: How to Build a Successful Law Practice Through Effective Selling ($95 from Thomson West’s Glasser LegalWorks imprint, 2004) is a must read for anyone—regardless of gender—committed to generating and keeping a wider client base. Because it is written in a no-nonsense, practical manner, even the most reluctant practitioner will want to pull out his or her best rain dancing shoes and start tapping away.
The author, Silvia L. Coulter, has extensive experience in marketing legal services, born of practical experience as a lawyer in the technology field, leadership experience in several firms, and service as national president of the Legal Marketing Association. Her book shows that she knows how to network and market effectively, how to make it look easy, and more importantly, how to teach others to use a variety of methods to increase and retain business. She recognizes that different techniques will work for those with different talents.
Although the author favors a committee approach to meeting and wooing potential corporate clients, examples are laid out in a straightforward format that can be easily used by small firms and even solos. Clear schedules and timelines for approaching a new client are accompanied by logical and well-thought-out illustrations on how to cement and expand an attorney-client relationship. Explanations on how to effectively network are accompanied by reminders to build client confidence through methodical but courteous contact. Chapters begin with bold bullet points, followed by practical and easy-to-digest explanations on how to complete the tasks. Demonstrations and case studies on how to relate to the client through shared interests remind readers that forming trust through a mutual bond is a fundamental approach used by even the most seasoned marketer.
The author thoroughly analyzes how to define your target market. A vital step in marketing is to focus on building a portfolio of clients in a specific area rather than using a shotgun approach to expand the client base. Coulter gives meticulous examples of how to locate suitable clients and then provides sensible approaches to making the most of contacts after the initial meeting. Rather than focusing on one approach to securing a new client, she presents multiple methods to suit a variety of personalities and styles of networking. The format of the book enables readers to quickly reference checklists along the way, a useful feature because readers will be in different stages with different targeted clients.
Coulter emphasizes that you must build upon your own character strengths in improving your business: Keep your word, follow through on promises, and do your homework investigating a new target client before making your approach. She provides easy-to-use templates for structuring presentations to potential clients, explains how to prioritize objectives, and gives useful checklists and tip lists to strengthen confidence in selling yourself and your firm.
Despite the title, a surprisingly small portion of the book addresses gender issues encountered by female practitioners. The book correctly notes that finding a mentor and learning to handle rejection are crucial to the success of any businessperson, regardless of gender. However, when she compares lawyers to attentive, problem-solving caregivers, the author may startle those who consider the aggressive businesswoman to be less than feminine.
Gender neutrality doesn’t have to mean gender blindness. Women lawyers can be successful marketers without losing the very strengths that make them uniquely suited to solve their clients’ problems. This book shows that being an effective rainmaker can be fun and rewarding regardless of gender and accomplished without losing integrity. Read the book and start making rain.
Vicki Levy Eskin practices law in Seminole County, Florida, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: West Group is a corporate sponsor of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division; this article appears in connection with the Division's Sponsorship agreement with West Group. Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services, and this review should not be so construed.