Securing your first legal job may seem like the biggest hurdle you will have to face for a while. Yet, from the start of your legal career, you must learn to balance being the most effective advocate for your current clients with developing ways to attract new clients and retain current clients. Partners of law firms are evaluating their associates based on their lawyering skills and the amount of money the associates bring in to the firm. At many firms, it is not acceptable to be the “worker bee” attorney anymore. Sure you can do the work. You were hired because you were able to distinguish yourself from other candidates. But now that you have the job, how do you compare to your fellow associates?
A rainmaker is an attorney who can do both the “worker bee” attorney’s job and cultivate clients. Especially in this ailing economy, if you were in the partner’s shoes and had to choose between working with a “worker bee” attorney and a “rainmaking” attorney, who would you choose?
Here are some tips to help bring out the rainmaker in you. You need to earn Respect, pay Attention, be Intelligent, Network, earn Money, be Available, Keep in touch, and be Efficient and Realistic.
Earning respect in your field is critical to become an effective rainmaker. To earn respect, be dedicated to your firm and your clients so that you achieve positive results. Become the “go-to” attorney in your area of the law. Your clients and peers will grow to respect you and refer clients to you.
Pay attention to your client’s needs. If a client tells you he is not technologically savvy, do not plan to communicate primarily by e-mail. Listen to your clients. Lawyers are known for talking; but, listening and catering to your client’s needs will pay off in the long run. If your client references a special occasion, such as an upcoming birthday or anniversary, go the extra mile and send a tasteful and professional letter or card.
Remember, you have to know the law to be a great lawyer. Participate in CLEs, even if they are not required by the state where you are licensed. Not only will CLEs keep you informed, they also offer great opportunities to meet lawyers with your same interests. Also, read quality publications and lawyer blogs to stay abreast of the latest cases, legislation, and industry news.
If there is one key, this is it. Building relationships with your peers can prove to be profitable. Network with all lawyers, and do not overlook attending events with lawyers from different practice areas.
You don’t have to spend that much money to make money. Do not get caught up in spending more money than you earn on networking events and dinners. You can have the same conversation with a potential client over coffee than over dinner at a five-start restaurant.
Be available for your clients. Always make each client feel as if he or she is your only client. If the client is constantly being sent to your voicemail, you may be replaced with a lawyer who will make time for the client.
Keep in Touch
After attending a networking event, what do you do with those business cards? Follow up. Staying fresh on your peers’ minds will get you referrals.
Your clients will appreciate your efficiency when they look at their bills. Do not waste your time and, most importantly, do not waste their time.
If a client questions your genuineness, you risk losing them. Although you can learn to be a rainmaker, your interest must be sincere. If your conversations appear scripted or forced, then your client may seek an attorney that is a more effective communicator.