Want to Make it Rain? Take Risks.

Explore:  Career Development

Law firms need lawyers who can expand existing client relationships and grow their own and their firm’s book of business. Using social science methodology, Lawyer Metrics has identified a broad “Rainmaker Profile” that captures the traits and behaviors associated with client development success. As it turns out, one of the most important rainmaking factors is a willingness to take risks.

The importance of risk-taking is perhaps surprising. People are generally predisposed to avoid risky behavior (see, e.g., work by Kahneman), and as a group, lawyers tend to be risk averse. Yet, in their approach to the profession, Rainmakers buck both trends. What is the evidence?

Lawyer Metrics designed a study to uncover the biographical and behavioral foundations of rainmaking (“The Rainmaking Study”). As part of the Study, we collected performance data from over 300 partners, primarily at AmLaw 100 and AmLaw 200 firms. These Rainmakers and Client Service Partners completed the Management Development Questionnaire (MDQ) assessment, which is designed to measure 20 separate behaviors that are related to workplace performance. Using this data, Lawyer Metrics developed a statistical model1 that reveals the extent to which each of the MDQ behaviors makes Rainmakers distinctive.

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