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Young Lawyers: Client Development for Young Lawyers

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MARCH 2009
“The more clients know that you understand and care about their business or legal needs, the more often you may become their ‘go-to’ lawyer. ”
I recently read an insightful article about client development for young lawyers in The Dicta publication.1 The article was authored by a career coach/law firm consultant who had practiced law for 37 years prior to consulting. The career coach outlined some pointers that he described as client development tips in a nutshell. I have highlighted a few of his thoughts which I believed to be particularly interesting and applicable to young lawyers in Nevada during these difficult economic times, when client development is critical. Keep the focus on the client. First, the career coach pointed out that client development today is more focused on the client than ever before. The goal in client development is becoming an outstanding lawyer in the client’s eyes. This requires developing a good rapport with the client, by understanding the client’s needs and expectations, and by responding to those needs and expectations appropriately. “Today, there are plenty of fine lawyers doing very good work,”2 so the goal should be to set yourself apart from those other fine lawyers. A true relationship should develop between you and the client, where the client feels comfortable, trusts you as a lawyer, and more importantly, trusts you as a person. Become the client’s “go-to” lawyer. “[T]o become a ‘go-to lawyer’ in the eyes of your clients and potential clients you have to become visible.”3 The career coach recommended writing and speaking on certain business challenges and changes that are relevant to your clients. You may subscribe to specialized publications or become affiliated with different organizations to stay current on relevant client issues, and weigh in on those issues through speaking or writing opportunities. The more clients know that you understand and care about their business or legal needs, the more often you may become their “go-to” lawyer.
Remember clients hire lawyers more than law firms. The career coach suggested that clients hire lawyers more than law firms. If you become a client’s “go-to” lawyer, they will send you business because of the relationship you have established with them. The more “go-to” relationships you establish, the more work you can expect, which will benefit both you and your law firm, if applicable. If you practice in a law firm where other attorneys, outside your area of practice for instance, could assist your client, you should cross-market your firm’s services. As your client’s “go-to” lawyer, they will follow your recommendation if you believe that it is within their best interest to utilize your firm’s resources. Finally, make client development a habit. “Make client development a habit and try to do something, no matter how small, each and every day.”4 This was the final recommendation by the career coach. This could include sending a client a thank-you note for trusting you with their legal representation or calling a client to congratulate them on a recent award. No matter how small or large the gesture or contact with your client, it will be remembered and appreciated. Hopefully, you have found these tips on client development helpful. If you are interested in reading the entire article authored by Cordell Parvin, you can read it in the January 2009 edition of The Dicta.
1. See Cordell Parvin, Client Development – In a Nutshell, The Dicta, Jan. 2009 at 6. The Dicta is the monthly newsletter of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, and can be found online at: 2 Id. 3 Id. 4 Id.

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