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Coaching Your Attorneys Through a Dry Spell

Posted by Clay Moran on Nov 10, 2015 1:41:44 PM

Even the best attorneys can struggle with business generation at times. For some, it is a lack of business development planning. For others, the plan that they built has gone stale. I was recently met with a situation where a talented attorney with his own book of business and no qualms about speaking or networking began to feel thesqueeze of slowed business generation. His clients simply were not involved in any litigious situations at that time, and he needed to jumpstart his usiness development — fast! Here are the highlights of the plan we devised.

1. Give the Business Development Plan Some TLC. This is the perfect opportunity for attorneys to spend a little time assessing their plan. One specific exercise I gleaned from an attorney completing the Cordell Parvin coaching sessions encouraged the assessment of business development activities in the following way: Divide activities into two groups based on whether they require a relatively high or low amount of investment. Most often, “investment” translates to “time.” Then, within each of those groups, divide activities into two further groups based on perceived rate of return — one high and one low. When complete, there should be four groups. To the extent that attorneys are able to dial their efforts up and down toward each activity, steer them first toward the low investment, high-return activities.

2. Assess the Network. If attorneys don’t yet have a system for tracking contacts and interactions, this is a great time to develop one. If they do, encourage them to reach out to any neglected contacts (personal or business). This could be lunch, passing along an article or sometimes even a text message. Just be sure the goal is meaningful interaction.

3. Grow and Diversify Business from Current Clients. Create a regular business reporting system that helps identify potential weaknesses or threats to the clients’ business. This can keep them aware of all of the ways the firm can be leveraged to build a better business. It also reinforces a shared interest in their success.

4. Write. Especially for more experienced attorneys who have amassed a plethora of knowledge on subjects relevant to their clients and potential clients, pour some of that knowledge into a publishable piece of literature. This may look different for different people, but can allow attorneys to demonstrate their knowledge base to a new audience.

5. Cultivate a New Practice Area. This one is a big step and may not be right for everyone. In extreme situations, however, such as new legislation or a shifting market, it may be a smart move.

Bonus Tip: Times of low business generation are generally times of elevated stress for your attorneys. However you choose to coach them through this period, make sure your role is always one of advocate. Cheer their wins and help them keep “losses” in perspective, remembering that their business is your business.

Clay Moran is the marketing coordinator at Williams Venker & Sanders LLC in St. Louis. She can be reached at



Need more business development strategy ideas? The September/October issue of Strategies magazine has some of that and more. Access the archives to dig a little deeper.



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