Do You Deserve Business Development Training?

by JD Supra Perspectives

How can you convince your firm that you deserve a slice of the training/coaching investment pie? Don’t tell them, show them...

Having your own clients and business has long been characterized as “critical” for lawyers in firms of any size. Now, it’s considered a matter of survival. The days of paternalistic law firms maintaining client-less lawyers at their longtime compensation levels (or at all) is over. Now, those lawyers’ compensation is being cannibalized to satisfy the growing income demands of the rainmakers the firm is desperate to keep — and of those the firm aspires to recruit.

That money is coming from you. Six years ago I alerted you to make yourself irreplaceable or finance the stars’ wealth.

In response, lawyers have lobbied their firms to provide marketing and sales training and coaching to help them get better at getting clients. To their credit, firms have expanded budgets and headcount to support such efforts. However, no firm can afford to provide training and coaching to all its lawyers. It’s too expensive and there are too many lawyers. Another factor is that firms have seen too much of their investment wasted on lawyers who don’t participate meaningfully in the training or make proper use of coaching.

How Will Your Firm Know You’re a Good BD Training Investment?

Solving this resource allocation challenge has largely been a matter of guesswork, with firms attempting to evaluate which lawyers deserve training and coaching based on their perceived potential to generate business.

Good luck with that.

I’ve been training and coaching lawyers for 25 years, with firms of every description, and I can’t tell at the outset who’ll use the training and coaching and who won’t. Any subjective selection criteria are compromised by conscious and subconscious biases that produce false positives (lawyers who were chosen, but shouldn’t have been) and false negatives (lawyers who weren’t given a chance, but should have been).

Don’t Just Tell, Show

How can you convince your firm that you deserve a slice of the training/coaching investment pie? Don’t tell them, show them. Your peers’ past promises and claims haven’t proved reliable, so more of that won’t work. Show them:

  • Read everything you can about professional services marketing and sales.
  • Ask your business development department for suggestions on what to read.
  • Send notes to those who decide who gets training and coaching, summarizing what you learned from your reading and how you’re going to apply it.
  • Participate in webinars on business development topics, and report on what you learned from them and how you will apply it.
  • Request advice on applying this information to specific situations that are imminent.
  • After receiving advice, report back with the results and learnings from the attempt, and solicit more advice.

Cumulatively, over less time than you might think, you’ll create the correct impression that you are:

  • Serious about learning how to develop business.
  • Committed to the firm’s success, and using your own non-business time to learn how to develop business.
  • Willing to take risks and trying to use what you learned — and that you deserve the firm’s help more than those lawyers who are waiting around for the firm to solve the problem for them.

When the time comes for your firm to decide who gets the expensive training and coaching, you’ll have built a prima facie case for your inclusion. The (business development training investment) gods help those who help themselves.


[Mike O'Horo is the co-founder of RainmakerVT and has trained 7000 lawyers in firms of all sizes and types, in virtually every practice type. They attribute $1.5 billion in additional business to their collaboration. His latest innovation, Dezurve, reduces firms’ business development training investment risks by identifying which lawyers are serious about learning BD.]


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