Keeping it Simple: 5 Business Development Strategies for Lawyers

Law firm lawyers should spend at least 20% of their time on business development. When working with law firm lawyers on business development coaching and leadership development it has become abundantly clear that while every firm wants their lawyers to be developing new business, there is no target or stake in the ground to guide lawyers on business development expectations. So while reading an article on innovation, it struck me that because law firms operate on time/hours they should set a business development goal of their lawyers spending at least 20% of their time on business development.

If law firms want to drive and encourage business development, they need to put the stake in the ground about the expectation that their lawyers spend time actually conducting business development activities. True or not, Google is widely reported to have encouraged its employees to spend 20% of their time on innovation. This supposedly has driven an innovation focused culture within Google. In turn, by spending at least 20% of their time on business development could spur a more focused business development culture within law firms.

With that here are 5 Simple Business Development Strategies for Lawyers:

  1. Handwritten Holiday Cards to Clients and Prospects. Since the Great Recession many law firms have gone with the electronic message that gets mass emailed out to clients and prospects. While certainly simpler, these severely lack any personal touch. Spend some time and develop your list of card recipients both clients and prospects and include a brief note. Here’s your opportunity to remind current clients of the value you brought to them this year or to remind prospects that you’re out there. For Associates, this could be all the client contacts you worked with this past year. Those are contacts that can speak to the good work that you do and could be in a position to refer you work in a few years. Everyone appreciates receiving a handwritten card.

  2. Personal Emails/Texts to Clients Prospects of a Topical Article Relevant to their Business. Yes, almost every firm has their email newsletter and client alert emails but all of our email inboxes are littered with these. Taking the time to send a quick email to clients and prospects with a link that’s relevant to their business helps you stay top of mind and also stands out as you took the time to send them something that could be of help (without billing them for it). To shortcut your time on this use feedly.com which aggregates a lot of news sources making it easy to find and share.

  3. Be Social. Be VERY Social. Like it or not, social media is here to stay and more and more important to business development every day. Stefanie Marrone has a great post on JD Supra on how lawyers should maximize social media entitled “The Secret Sauce to Effective Social Media Marketing for Lawyers and Law Firms”. Read it, save it, use it. Other than LinkedIn, where else can you go and be in front of hundreds and thousands of people who most likely fall within your law firm’s business development criteria? It surprises me over and over when I hear law firm lawyers proudly proclaim that they are not on social media. This is a clear indication that they have no business development plan whatsoever.

  4. Have a Plan. As Yogi Berra used to say, “If you don’t know where you’re going you’ll end up someplace else.” Take the time to put together a plan for your business development activities for the upcoming year. Who do you want to target? What are you going to do? Will you include anyone at your firm in the activities?

  5. Work with your Marketing Department. If your law firm has a marketing department, use them. They’re there to be a resource and take some of the burden of marketing off of you. BUT they can’t help you, if they don’t know what your goals are.

At Nimble, we work with law firm partners, of counsel, and associates on business development whether in a group or one-on-one setting teaching the skills that lawyers thought they didn’t need when they started practicing and providing the tools to be successful.