A lawyer-client in her mid-fifties has been practicing for three decades. She is a successful litigator and a partner at an established firm, but has never been a rainmaker. Now, however, with business slower at the firm, and she is facing the challenge of learning how to develop business.
This was our question to her: If tomorrow she was left on her own, and had to figure out how she would attract clients, what would she do?
She responded that she’s often asked herself this question because she doesn’t know how attorneys and other professionals do their marketing. She cited several examples of younger lawyer colleagues who networked successfully through activities that she thought were great for younger professionals early in their careers, but that she was past that point.
This brings up an interesting point. From our firm’s perspective, the world runs on two different but parallel tracks. One track is the continuous track from the past to the present – the track that says you put your time in, pay your dues, build your career, and get to the point where you are “past” doing certain kinds of marketing activities. This track also says that if you go to a top law school, work hard and become a partner, you’re set for life. In today’s marketing environment, if you stay on this track, you may be hit by a speeding train.
The other track is that of the real world today – a world that’s become “flat” within a decade, and one in which Facebook and Twitter have become de rigueur for marketing. This is a world in which firm partners are out on the street looking for work, joining the ranks of those young lawyers with shiny Top 10 school law degrees who are also pounding the pavement.
There may be marketing and business development actions we think we shouldn’t have to take because we’re past that stage in our careers. But, the world has a lot less “wiggle” room right now, especially in marketing and generating business. We can’t look at marketing activities from the standpoint of whether it’s for someone with more or less experience, but need to look at it from a standpoint of will it work for me right now. Does it fit with my strengths, and if these don’t activities don’t align with my natural affinities, e.g., writing versus speaking, then what does?
It’s not that we’re saying our client should run out and join the golf club, but that we all need to decide which track we’re on.