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Law Practice Today

April 2024

Making It Rain: Trisha Rich

Elizabeth C Jolliffe and Trisha M Rich


  • Lawyers should begin building a client base as early as possible in their careers.
  • Marketing and client development should be worked on every day.
  • To succeed as a rainmaker, be authentic, learn what your colleagues do so you can cross-sell within your own firm, and be communicative both in reaching out to clients and responding to their communications.
Making It Rain: Trisha Rich

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Tell us a bit about your litigation practice and your niche practice.  

My complex commercial litigation practice is broad, and I’ve resolved and tried all types of cases. Additionally, I’ve developed a national practice and expertise in the legal regulation space. There, I represent lawyers, law firms, in-house legal departments, legal technology companies, and litigation funders on the myriad issues that impact how the legal profession is regulated.

As a young lawyer, I very much enjoyed litigation and found a natural home in that work. As a developing mid-level associate, I recognized the need—especially in a field as broad as litigation is—to develop a marketable niche. Wanting to develop a very specific skill set is what led me to legal regulatory work.    

How and when did you start working on building a book of business?

I started thinking about rainmaking during law school, and I started developing a client base as an associate. Several of my current clients are alums from my firm who I came up in the practice with, who then moved on to in-house roles and continued to work with me in those capacities.

I started getting involved in bar and community organizations as a young lawyer and have developed several client relationships through the relationships I formed in those organizations. Early on I internalized the idea that marketing and client development was something I should be thinking about every single day—and I did. 

What are three tips for lawyers who want to be successful rainmakers?

First, be authentic in all things. Be genuinely interested in your prospective clients’ problems, issues, and concerns, and make sure that your clients and prospective clients understand that you care about their issues.   

Second, learn and understand what your colleagues do. Being able to cross-sell within your own firm starts with being forward-thinking about how you can connect your colleagues to your clients and prospective clients to help solve their problems.  

Third, be communicative. Lawyers are extremely busy; clients are extremely busy. It is very easy to get distracted and forget to return a call or an email. That is the quickest way to destroying a relationship—one that might have taken years to cultivate.   

What is your uniqueness as a successful rainmaker?

For me, being a successful rainmaker has been having the right mix of expertise and authenticity.  

What does your marketing year look like?

It is busy, and I’m always thinking of new ways to get in front of my target audiences. In general, it includes a significant amount of speaking and writing—often more than a dozen articles and 20 or more speaking engagements a year. I attend several conferences a year, but those efforts are more geared toward referral networks than actual clients.

I teach legal ethics at New York University School of Law, which has generated some business for me as well. I am also deeply involved in several bar associations and spend time on client entertainment. I am often adapting different marketing strategies and actively trying to figure out what works and what does not work.  

Over the years, I’ve had a chance to do some unique marketing activities. Among my favorites have been things like having firm boxes at special events and taking clients for whom the event is particularly meaningful. For example, a few years ago I was able to take a client who is a huge Eagles fan to a box at an Eagles concert. I like to tailor the events to my clients’ interests—it is really important to me that it is an enjoyable and valuable use of their time.            

How did you get your first client?

My first client is still with me today, and I’m so grateful to them. They were the first company who really took a chance on me and sent me their legal work, and we’ve been together now for a decade or more. I was a mid- to senior-level associate, but the company’s CEO recognized that in the room I was the one who had read all the documents, knew them inside and out, and understood the underlying issues in the case. Over the next couple of years our relationship grew, often because they would reach out to me at odd hours for pressing situations and I always picked up my phone. I would talk with them and help them work through complicated matters. Eventually, it became natural, and now my firm does almost all their legal work.   

Is there anything you wish you had known or done differently regarding business development early in your career?

I wish that early on I had developed a better way to track and follow up with contacts and potential leads. Being organized is an important part of this practice, both in terms of maintaining a successful practice and building a book of business. A lot of being successful is building relationships, and a lot of that is just nuts and bolts practice management—keeping track of people, remembering their names, sending follow-up notes, and remembering to keep in touch. It’s less chaotic to maintain good practices if you’re implementing them early and consistently.

Any final advice on how to make it rain?

Don’t give up; be persistent! Think of marketing and rainmaking as a separate job and dedicate yourself to it like it is. It takes time, but it is worth it. And it helps if you enjoy it.