The Role of Finders, Binders, Minders & Grinders in Law Firms – How Each Contributes to Business Growth

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Managing partners, CMOs and other law firm leaders face the difficult task of keeping attorneys focused on billable hours while fostering a culture that values business development efforts. Many law firm leaders bemoan that some of their attorneys are not actively contributing to key firm efforts, like business development, client retention, marketing, etc. The attorneys may produce high-quality work, but rallying them to proactively engage in other efforts is an uphill battle. The result is a lose-lose for both: law firm leaders are frustrated they can’t get more out of their attorneys, and the attorneys become discouraged that their work performance isn’t enough. This friction can impact the firm’s overall success and can cause attorneys to jump ship. However, it’s important to recognize that different attorneys can play different, and equally important, roles in contributing to firm growth. Let us break things down.

Four Types of Attorneys – Finders, Minders, Grinders and Binders

“Finders, Minders, Grinders” is a term originally coined by David Maister in his book Managing the Professional Service Firm. It describes the various roles in professional service firms, and for our discussion, what role attorneys fulfill inside of law firms. Since then, “Binders” has been added to the mix to address a role that has emerged over time.

Finders: These are the rainmakers. They have a successful law practice, and they are always seeking out and generating new business for the firm. Typically, they will be at a partner level.

Minders: The Minders in a law firm excel at managing a team and overseeing administrative tasks. Their clients “belong” to another attorney (perhaps the origination partner), but they are responsible for day-to-day contact. They are more focused on internal operations and keep matters moving forward. They may be a partner or mid-level attorney.

Grinders: These are the attorneys who churn out the legal work. They are typically earlier in their legal careers and expected to bill hours. They don’t often interact with clients and instead, stay behind the scenes.

Binders: Binders are attorneys who are networkers – those that connect, build and nurture relationships and cement those relationships to the firm. They are regularly receiving and making important introductions. This is likely a partner or senior-level attorney, but junior attorneys may have this ability as well.

If all your attorneys fall into the same bucket, it would be a disaster. Everyone can’t be out drumming up business if there’s no one in the office to do the work. The goal is to have a team of attorneys that fall into different roles, but operate effectively together. There may be some crossover – e.g., a Finder may have some Binder qualities – and attorneys take on the role of both, particularly in smaller firms, but someone must be fulfilling each of these categories.

How This Impacts Marketing & Business Development

Every attorney has a role to fulfill, and some may stay within that role for the duration of their career, and some may evolve. A Grinder’s contribution is to produce a large volume of work and bill substantial hours, and in turn, they are allowing Finders and Binders to do what they do best – foster relationships and generate business. Understanding these roles should result in a more harmonious and productive firm.

So, can an attorney jump from one role to another? Yes, with the right training and support. Expecting a Grinder to inherently have a “Finder” mentality will lead to frustration both on the attorney’s side and law firm leadership. It’s either significantly above their experience level or it doesn’t align with their personality type and interests.

Sit down with attorneys individually and determine what role best suits them now, while determining ways they can contribute to the firm’s marketing endeavors without negatively impacting their work production. In time, attorneys with potential as Finders and Binders will stand out, allowing you to create training and mentorship programs for these individuals to become the next generation of rainmakers.

Regardless of what role an attorney falls into, if your firm requires marketing and business development participation, setting clear expectations depending on level and experience should be communicated. Ask yourself: What does participation look like for someone who is a Grinder? A Minder? And so forth. If they are required to bill 40+ hours per week, is it realistic for them to be attending networking events or authoring the firm blog? Probably not. Then set expectations based on realistic standards and build upon this as the attorney grows.

How This Ties Into Recruiting

Developing a “people plan” with Finders, Minders, Grinders and Binders in mind should guide your recruiting efforts. Get a sense of the group you have, and which bucket they fall in, paying attention to the gaps. Also consider, if a key Finder leaves the firm and suddenly your lead pipeline dries up, how are you going to fill this gap? If several Grinders depart for another firm, you’ll need to replace them, so you’re not looking to Finders and Binders to get the work done.

When you’re recruiting, think about where you need support and don’t just hire an attorney with a good resume. Get a sense of how the candidate will contribute, or not. Will they bring in clients but not do any work? Are they a good relationship person? Will they be too timid to get out from behind a desk? Assess their soft skills and how they can fit into your firm. Soft skills aren’t the most important aspect when hiring, but they must be considered.

Having a “people plan” in place will ensure that you’re strategic about your hiring practices and retaining the talent necessary to fill the Finders, Binders, Minders and Grinders roles, while maintaining a collaborative and successful work environment.

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Berbay Marketing & Public Relations has nearly three decades of experience providing law, real estate and financial firms with marketing and public relations services that propel your business forward. Berbay’s dedicated team has demonstrated success in securing media placements, achieving nominations and rankings, revitalizing websites and social media, obtaining speaking engagements and more.

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