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  • Writer's pictureLisa Dawson

Copy of Part Four: Business Development Building a Successful Law Firm

In this 4th and final installment of Building a Successful Law Firm, we take a look at what you and your firm, can and should be doing, to grow in this area.

First, what exactly is business development? And how does it differ from marketing? From the successful outcomes I have been involved with, Business Development is all about relationships: building them, cultivating them, nurturing them, and leveraging them, all on a personal, face to face level. While marketing is also about relationships, it’s focused on the broader, target market.

In my experience, lawyers often push the ‘easy button’- thanks Staples, in an attempt to attract clients and grow the firm. Money is thrown at various initiatives and lawyers feel better they are doing something to market themselves, but are they? Sorry to point this out, but there is no easy button when it comes to business development! Business development is a hands-on sport. Because it’s about relationships, it requires you to get out there and build them. So here is how YOU do that.

TST™ -Targeted, Strategic, and Tactical

Your time is your most valuable commodity; you only have so much of it. By taking Gary’s proprietary approach, you maximize your Return on Investment, (ROI); your investment of time and resources. What is Gary’s Approach?


The first step is to make sure whatever action you are taking, you are taking it in front of the right people, your target market; people that either have the need to hire you, or people who will refer clients to you. If you are not in front of the right people, it doesn’t matter how great you do what you are doing, you are still wasting your time. Lawyers don’t like to waste their time.


Again, this is about maximizing your time and realizing the best possible results, or ROI.

That requires having a plan. When I say ‘plan’, I don’t mean you have to go through an exhaustive process and take months to create a lengthy document. Keep it simple. Here is a basic outline:

• Start with your ‘end-game’ and think BIG! Set goals

• Set deadlines (accountability-moving forward)

• Longer term/Mid-term/ Short-Term/Today

• Use Check lists and to-do lists

• Make notes on progress


You are now targeted and you have a plan. Then, it’s all about execution. So it’s the tactical steps you take to follow your strategy to reach your goals. Sometimes it’s not about the ‘what’, that part you may have already. Then it’s really about the ‘how’. Depending on your skills, abilities and what you like to do, these may include:

• Speaking at conferences

• Hosting educational seminars/webinars

• Networking

• Social media

• Community involvement

• Writing

• Blogging

Again, you may already be doing some of these, but with a few little tweaks, you could be enjoying much better results and a better ROI.

When you follow this methodology, you become laser-focused, saving time and money and experiencing better results-more clients.

Your team

It’s simple math really. If you are the only one actively working to bring in clients, there is only so much of you; your time, your energy, etc.

What would it look like if you the entire Firm on your team actively working to bring in new clients?

Now, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to be a Rainmaker, but if people are given some simple things to remember, you can naturally expand your reach and efforts and gain more traction.

Remember back to the beginning when I said business development is all about relationships; well all of your people have them. They have friends, neighbors, connections in their own communities. Why not leverage those relationships to reach more potential clients?

Train them to follow the same methods you are now engaged in. Follow the same steps. Consider providing some more in-depth training and support to those people on your team who demonstrate some natural ability in this area, and a desire to help you grow your firm-while growing their practice, and/or career. This includes everyone on your team; lawyers, clerks, paralegals, reception and assistants. You might be surprised to find how beneficial your people can be as untapped resources.


Whichever business development tactics you chose, to get even greater benefit and results, align those actions with your marketing plan. Here’s what I mean. When you or your team are out there; networking, speaking, attending conferences or out in the community, align those ‘face-to-face’ actions with marketing support. Focus your advertising, sponsorships, and any other marketing investments on that same target market. So your potential clients and referral sources see your firm name, and they have a chance to put a face to it.

If you follow even just a few of these tips, you will be well on your way to growing your firm exponentially. That’s Leadership!

I wish to thank my partners in Law Firm Leadership Alliance, Lisa Dawson and Mayur Gadhia for their contributions to this series.

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