March 10, 2011 Articles

Rainmaking Tips for Women: A Primer

A recent study found that there is a direct correlation between the time spent on business development and the amount of business generated.

By Michelle Foster

Women constituted a mere 16 percent of equity partners in U.S. law firms in 2009—unchanged from 2008 and barely up from 2006—according to the National Association of Women Lawyers’ latest Survey on the Status of Women in Law Firms. Almost half of firms have no women among their top 10 rainmakers; another third have only one woman among their top 10. The imbalance is having an increasingly negative effect on women. Rainmakers tend to be better compensated and are more likely to hold positions of power. It also makes them more marketable should they choose to switch firms. “If women attorneys have any hopes of achieving a longer life span in the modern law firm, they must learn to generate business,” confirms Stephanie J. Cohen, a partner at McCarter & English (in “The Importance of Business Development for Women Attorneys,” The Woman Advocate, Volume 15, Number 2, Winter 2010).

What do women need to do to join the ranks of the top rainmakers? In 2007, Harry Keshet, founder of Keshet Consulting, conducted the Women Attorneys Business Development Study and discovered there were six predictors of high originations for women lawyers: (1) years of legal experience; (2) time spent on business development; (3) using a targeted approach; (4) participation in pitch meetings; (5) cross-selling other firm services; and (6) asking clients for introductions to others who may need legal services.

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