Umbrella Handy? Legal Career Advice to Enhance Your Rainmaking Skills

You’ve heard the same legal career advice over and over: The best route to career development as a lawyer is to earn a reputation as a rainmaker. Attorneys who can bring new business to their law firms tend to move up the ladder more quickly. They also usually have an easier time finding new legal jobs if they decide to change firms.

So you know you should be working on client development. But maybe you feel like you’re too shy, or you’re not comfortable tooting your own horn. Or perhaps you’re so busy in the office that you don’t think you have the time to devote to wooing new clients.

Yes, it helps to be outgoing when you’re looking to land new business, and it’s easier when you’re not working 10-hour days on projects for your current clients. But you don’t need a big personality and oodles of free time to be an effective rainmaker.

Here are five tips to help you develop new business for your firm:

  1. Consider every social situation a chance to network. Don’t wait for official business functions to make professional connections. Talk casually and informally about what you do with fellow parents at your child’s school functions, or at alumni events, or when you meet friends of friends at social gatherings. Be friendly and helpful if you can. That way, when your acquaintances are looking for an attorney in your specialty, they’ll automatically think of you.  

  2. Strengthen your relationships with other attorneys. Some of the best clients come as referrals from others in the legal profession. Whether a lawyer or law firm has a conflict and can’t take a particular client, or is simply too busy to take the work, you want them to think of you when the client asks for a referral to another attorney or firm. Network at events and conferences for the legal profession and keep in touch with lawyers you meet who work in your area of specialization.  

  3. Focus your efforts. Apply the strategic planning skills you’ve developed working with clients to your own career. In other words, target your approach: When you’re trying to bring in new business, don’t just sign up for every association that sounds interesting or promising to you. Instead, think about the types of professionals who’d be most likely to need your services, and get involved with their groups. If you’re a patent lawyer and the bulk of your clients are in the tech industry, for example, join organizations and attend conferences for IT professionals.

  4. Establish yourself as an expert in a particular topic. These days, professionals in every industry are making an effort to create a personal brand for themselves the way only companies used to do. Attorneys can benefit from this career advice, as well. Seek out public speaking opportunities in your area of expertise; and consider starting a blog in which you discuss trending topics and issues in the legal field and your area of specialization, whether that’s real estate law, litigation or bankruptcy. You can also contribute articles to print and online publications that reach professionals in your field. You’ll gain a reputation as a leader in your area of expertise, and you’ll tap into an audience you might not otherwise reach.

  5. Use social media to your advantage. Even if public speaking and blogging aren’t your thing, you can still get your name out there through social media platforms. Set up accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter and connect with as many colleagues as you can. Also, join industry groups on both platforms that focus on your specialty. Start contributing to the conversations in those groups by posting relevant articles and adding your thoughts to these discussions.

One more piece of career advice that will enhance your client development skills: Always produce quality work, even if the job you’re doing seems small or low-profile. That way, you’ll gain a reputation as a top-notch attorney who always goes the extra mile for his or her clients. And when it comes to rainmaking, nothing is better than that.