The Road from Associate to Partner— Rainmaking, Rainmaking, Rainmaking

Vol. 16 No. 9

By

cole A. Williams is a partner at Hileman & Williams in Bethesda, MD. You can follow her on Twitter @nwilliams23.

There are many different types of lawyers from government attorneys to prosecutors. Yet, many law students and young lawyers aspire to work in private practice and hopefully, achieve partner at a firm. The road to partner is based on hard work, thousands of billable hours, and the ability to show that you have what it takes to bring in new business. Law school does a great job of teaching legal theory and writing, and courses like trial advocacy and clinics allow law students to gain practical courtroom experience. However, most law schools do not teach Rainmaking 101.

The ability to bring in new clients is the difference between an associate and a partner. Yet it is one of the most challenging tasks for a new attorney. Here are some tips to help you make that transition.

  • Find a partner within the firm who is willing to take you to pitch meetings, networking events, and other gatherings with potential new clients so you can observe, watch, and learn.
  • Expand your personal network by joining various professional and civic groups within your community.
  • Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to talk about your job and the types of cases that you handle.
  • Offer to write a legal advice column for your local community newspaper or online blog.

Engaging in these activities causes people to see you not just as a lawyer, but as the real estate lawyer that they know personally. You become the person that people call if they or someone they know has a problem in your particular practice area. For example, I am a member of the Kiwanis Club in my local community—a civic organization that I enjoy. However, by networking with other members of my club and other clubs in the area, I have developed a reputation as the real estate lady. In addition to billing hundreds of hours and knowing the law, your reputation and connections will bring in business, and the firm will begin to see you as more of a rainmaker/partner than an associate. At that point, you are on your way!

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