Short 2 – 3 minute read article series

Lawyers and business development terror

Lawyers and business development terror

As a business development coach for lawyers, I help some clients overcome their fear and anxiety around business development and generate new revenue.

While lawyers may not have gone to law school to learn about business development it is important to grow their business. In addition, business development may not be the primary focus of a lawyer’s work, it is an essential aspect of running a successful law practice.

Lawyers may have fear and anxiety around business development for a variety of reasons. One reason is that they may be trained to be risk-averse and may be hesitant to engage in activities that could be seen, in their minds, as pushy. This can make them unsure of how to approach business development and can lead to anxiety.

Another reason for this fear and anxiety may be a lack of experience or training specifically in business development. Many lawyers may not have received formal instruction on how to effectively market themselves or their firms, and may not have access to colleagues, mentors or external coaches who can provide guidance in this area. This lack of knowledge and support can make lawyers feel uncertain and unsure of how to approach business development, again leading to fear and anxiety.

For lawyers who are looking to advance their careers, engaging in business development can be an essential step. By originating new work and building a strong client base, lawyers can demonstrate their value to their firms and can increase their chances of being promoted or offered a partnership. For existing partners, many law firms have systems in place for allocating points to partners based on their contributions to the firm’s revenue from either successfully maintaining relationships with existing clients that lead to new work or from the origination of new clients.

To overcome this fear and anxiety, lawyers can take baby steps and focus on small, manageable tasks. For example, as a starting point, they can take a critical look at their existing contacts and rank them in terms of their potential as prospects. This can help them strategically target their business development efforts. Lawyers are busy people and the time they spend on business development has to be well invested and this means focused.

A common pitfall is the lack of follow-up after the initial contact or meetings with a prospective client or referral source.

Many lawyers fail to record the next action steps, which can lead to missed opportunities and a lack of progress in their business development efforts.

To overcome this issue, they should make sure to record the next action steps after every business development outreach or meeting. This can help them stay organized and focused, and can ensure that they follow up on potential leads in a timely and effective manner. By doing this, lawyers can avoid the pitfalls of missed opportunities and can build a more successful practice.

To summarize, lawyers may have fear and anxiety around business development for several reasons. These may include their inherent risk-aversion, a lack of experience or training in business development, concerns about the competitive nature of the legal industry, and a lack of follow-up after meetings with prospective clients or referral sources. By taking baby steps and seeking out support and guidance, lawyers can overcome their fears.

If you are a lawyer who is hesitant about business development or simply needs help taking it to the next level, I would be happy to have a complementary conversation with you to discuss how coaching can help and answer your questions. Send me an email and we can set up a time to speak:

I do ‘Business Development’ coaching. Not life coaching. Not career coaching. It is focused on business development through client development, client retention and winning new clients. I bring over 25 years’ experience in professional services. I have been a partner in two international firms and for more than 15 years have been a business development coach for lawyers. My clients include national law firms, regional firms, small one office firms, specialized boutique firms and solo. I am based in Toronto and have worked in a number of countries.

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