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Rainmaker Spotlight on Business Attorney Andrew D. Frederick

Demetrius Donte Pyburn

Rainmaker Spotlight on Business Attorney Andrew D. Frederick
Tom Werner via Getty Images

Welcome to the Young Advocates Committee’s Rainmaker Spotlight series! This series features tips and lessons from senior attorneys and successful business developers.

Developing business is an extremely important step to becoming a successful attorney. As a new attorney, how do you begin to develop client relationships? The best people to answer this question are the rainmakers of the legal industry, who have landed the big clients, created a brand, and established themselves as successful business developers. In this series, we explore practical issues and get the benefit of real-life anecdotes from those who have not only survived but thrived. We thought what better way than to get our advice straight from the horse’s mouth!

In this issue, we feature Andrew D. Frederick, a business attorney with The Frederick Law Firm, LLC, in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a highly effective attorney who took a chance and opened a law firm after practicing for six-plus years as a prosecutor and in a larger law firm, concentrating in employment defense litigation. He serves many small businesses as their outside general counsel, providing services for small businesses that cannot afford to hire in-house counsel. He assists small businesses in reviewing and negotiating contracts, assesses regulatory risks, offers potential solutions to mitigate those risks, and brings actions on behalf of business owners in an effort to resolve business disputes.

Below are Frederick’s insights into business development.

How long have you been practicing law?

I have been practicing law since 2012. 

What kind of practice do you currently have?

I currently have a business law practice. Half of my practice is serving as outside general counsel, providing advice and counsel to small businesses who may not be ready for a full-time, in-house general counsel. The other half is helping business owners resolve business disputes. 

Is that the practice you anticipated having when you started out, or have things evolved?

Certainly evolved. I certainly did not see this when I began practice. I started my legal career in the solicitor’s office. After spending some time there, I transitioned to a large labor and employment firm, practicing labor law. I definitely learned a lot, not just about the practice of law but the business of law. Two years ago, I had enough general counsel work to open my own law firm and decided to pivot into business law. The thing I love the most about this practice is the people I deal with every day. I love my clients. I love learning about all the different business and the business owners in Greenville. 

How did you land your biggest client/file? What led to that opportunity? How/where did the relationship originate?

I landed my biggest clients by always looking for opportunities. Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time at cocktail hours with financial advisers and networking events, meeting new people. You don’t get business from prospective clients after meeting them one time. You run into people multiple times, five or six times, then they realize you know what you are doing, then the business comes after that. 

What business development habits and techniques have you personally found to be most effective?

I believe there are two stages when it comes to business development. The first stage is what I talked about earlier: putting yourself out there often and telling people who you are, what you do, and what you know. After you receive the business from the people you meet in step one, the key goal is to perform exceptional work for those clients. After performing that great work, the second step of business development stems from those satisfied clients. The satisfied clients not only begin sending you more work but also refer other potential clients to your practice. 

What do you find is the hardest thing about business development?

At times, the hardest thing about business development is believing you’re going to succeed. It’s easy for lawyers to create checklists, identifying what briefs need to be drafted and other work that needs to be performed. Once complete, you can check it off your list. You cannot write down “get two clients” today on a checklist and quickly perform the work necessary to check that box. You have to constantly and consistently keep putting yourself out there, and eventually the phone calls will come and business will happen. 

Tell us about a time you had a business development “blunder.” Was it fatal to the business development opportunity? Did you learn something valuable from it?

At one of the financial adviser cocktail hours, I met a great guy who told me about his great medical practice. I spoke to him about my experience and how I believed I could assist him with his business. What I did not realize at the time, and I learned later, is that the man did not own one medical practice. He owned two medical practices, and the one medical practice we did not speak about at the cocktail hour was a practice that I had previously sued twice. Needless to say, that did not work.

The lesson learned from that experience is, to the extent you can research and gain information about the people you will meet at various functions, your chances of success will be higher. 

What is one thing that you know now about business development that you wish you knew earlier in your career?

You do not need to know all the legal answers at the top of your head. At networking functions, when asked a question, you can assure the prospective client that [although] you do not currently know the answer to the question, you have the capability to find the answer, and you can follow up with the prospect with the correct answer.