A few years ago, I shot a 140 at the local bar association’s golf tournament—and that’s probably generous. I had new clubs, a fancy glove and the most fashionable golf shoes on the course, but quickly realized that golf was not my game. I left the tournament convinced I would be a marketing failure.
Since then, I’ve watched other women at my firm—Mary Reichert, Paula Pace and Hope Goldstein—develop sizeable books of business. What is it about their golf game that results in companies large and small choosing them as outside counsel?
Each of these women rainmakers generates business in different ways tailored to her style and interests, leading me to believe that when it comes to business development, one size doesn’t fit all. And if the shoes don’t fit, try some that do.
For example, Reichert relies on her subject-matter expertise to generate business, while Pace fosters a broad web of personal relationships that help her maintain a significant client base. Goldstein melds these approaches, regularly marketing within her area of specialization while maintaining a large social network that frequently produces referrals. Here is some background on each of these rainmakers.
Mary Reichert (MR) graduated with a B.A. from College of St. Catherine in 1966; she received her M.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1968 and, at that time, was one of only two women admitted to study full-time. She received her J.D. from Chicago–Kent School of Law in 1975, and in 1981 she received her LL.M. from Washington University. Reichert is a Bryan Cave partner who has been with the firm for 22 years, specializing in municipal finance, tax-exempt organizations and employee benefit matters.
Paula Pace (PP) graduated with a B.S. from Missouri State University in 1980 and received her J.D. from the University of Missouri–Kansas City in 1984. Before joining Bryan Cave, she worked at a small law firm for seven years and as in-house counsel with ITT Commercial Finance Corp. prior to its acquisition by Deutsche Bank. Pace joined Bryan Cave in 2000, where she is a partner, a member of the firm’s executive committee, and practices in the area of lender representation and corporate finance.
Hope Goldstein (HG) graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994 and received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law in 1997. She joined Bryan Cave in 2002, was promoted to partner in 2006, and provides labor and employment law advice and litigation services to employers. I spoke with these three women rainmakers of different generations at Bryan Cave LLP, and what I learned is this: Golf has nothing to do with their success, but the shoes do.
What is your favorite rainmaking tip?
MR: Find a good mentor and act, work and dress like someone whom a client can trust. Develop an expertise in some area of the law and find a client who needs that expertise.
PP: View the world as having endless potential, and don’t let logic preclude you from viewing everyone that you know as a potential source directly or through referral of business. My greatest clients are my friends.
HG: Marketing doesn’t have to be work, but it does require attention. You can enjoy it, but pay attention to the business needs of those around you as well.
What is your greatest marketing accomplishment?
MR: At an ESOP financing I did, prospective clients came to me and said, “We want you to do an ESOP financing class and we understand that you know a lot about ESOPs.” One client came to me because I had given a speech on ESOP financing for the bar association in St. Louis, and in those days, nobody knew very much about ESOPs. I think learning something hard like ESOP financing and the arbitrage rules of the federal tax laws set me apart from the competition.
PP: My proudest marketing accomplishment arose from what could have been a marketing failure. I was handling a deal for a partner while he was out of town, and that particular partner’s demeanor was much more refined than mine. So I determined that the best course was to emulate the demeanor, which is not my more informal personality. In a couple of calls with the client, I was behaving very formally and trying to put on a “I’m a serious person” tone of voice. Fortunately for me, one of the things that happened in one of those calls was that I heard in-house counsel whisper to the treasurer, “Cute shoes.” I paused and then I said, “I heard that. I like shoes. What kind of shoes?” Laughter ensued, and these two brilliant women and I started having a conversation about shoes, and how cute shoes make you feel more confident. After that, our relationship with one another changed. My work relationship with them deepened and became a seamless friendship. I promise you it never would have happened had I continued to behave differently than my authentic self—and if I’d never heard that one person say, “Cute shoes.”
HG: Marketing takes so many forms. We provided a labor and employment CLE to another firm, and as a result of our demonstrated expertise, they have referred us a number of great clients. On the other hand, our New York office hosts a private shoe shopping and networking event for our clients every year, which has been a huge success.
Do you find that you’ve had to overcome any marketing hurdles because you’re a woman?
MR: No, on the contrary, as I look back on my profession, I think it was a help. When I began practicing, there were virtually no female lawyers in the hallways. In fact, I think because I was an anomaly at the time, it actually helped me.
PP: No. Really, when I was younger, I assumed that I would be a marketing failure because I didn’t know how to maintain the veneer of that professional person that, in my imagination, I viewed I needed to be in order to get business. I’m glad I gave that up.
HG: I think that age, especially as it relates to experience, is a bigger hurdle for marketing than gender. I found marketing as a junior lawyer to be more difficult than as I became more senior. You need to put in the time and energy toward developing into a great lawyer and trusted advisor so that when you market yourself and your firm, your audience will take your word. That comes with experience.
How do you balance work, marketing endeavors and your personal life?
MR: If you ask me what is the most important thing in life, one day I may answer, “My husband.” But if you ask me another day, I may answer, “My practice.” The only difference is the day you ask me.
PP: I always kind of laugh at the word “balance” because I think that there is some connotation to the word, as though you feel rested and guilt-free. I think that particularly for young mothers in this profession, it’s a long time before you feel rested.
HG: I’m not sure that I actually do—I’m still working on that. Though I have learned with time that marketing doesn’t have to be work. It can be time spent with and looking out for friends.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to young lawyers today?
MR: I never realized how competitive this profession would be when I started out. I had to learn that on my own because there weren’t many female lawyers, especially tax lawyers, when I began. I would frequently remind myself of this: “This profession is really competitive, and if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Law is a profession and professionals are called upon to provide services whenever the client needs it. Decide what you like to do, figure out what you connect with. But make sure that there is at least an access point in your community or social network where you can use it to develop your practice. Learn something hard and complicated. That is the most rewarding.
PP: I wish that I had known that the world is full of clients and to be patient. Also, deeply understanding your client’s business can make you the most powerful person in the room. When your client observes you applying the facts about the business to the discussion, at that point you are perceived as the lawyer who cares enough about the client to have done the necessary homework.
HG: You don’t have to make big marketing gestures in order to be marketing. Just pay attention to networking and relationship building from the beginning of your career. And instead of feeling obligated to attend firm-sponsored functions, charity events, CLEs and the like, remember they are opportunities to network and market and to take advantage of them.
Regardless of your rainmaking style or experience, there is an opportunity to network, meet and make friends at the ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop, Oct. 19 to 21 in Lake Tahoe, CA. Please visit womenrainmakers.org for further information.