As summer comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on some core business development principles and ways to generate leads and build relationships. Each of these activities can be done at any size firm and by lawyers at any level to make a big impact.

1. Invest in your clients. Show them you care about them and never surprise them with bad news.

2. Regardless of your title or role, everyone is in business development. We are a client-service business.

3. Always seek out ways to add value to every relationship. Find ways to help your contacts. Be a resource to them. This helps to build relationships.

4. Cultivate relationships with your prime referral sources. They have work to refer – why not to you?

  • Solo practitioners
  • Small law firms
  • Accounting firms
  • Big firms
  • Individuals close to retirement age
  • Alumni networks
    • Your former firms
    • Educational institutions

5. It pays to stay in touch with people in your professional network, even if it doesn’t pay off right away. A lawyer with whom I work regularly gets referrals from individuals with whom he summered and from former colleagues at a prior firm.

6. Every interaction with a client or prospect is an opportunity to impress and build trust. Remember that you are always being evaluated so put your best foot forward.

7. Use social media (particularly LinkedIn) to reconnect with contacts. Use it to keep abreast of job moves of important contacts. Today, most people do not send an email when they move jobs, instead they use LinkedIn to notify their professional networks. It’s up to you to do the due diligence to find where they landed.

8. Speak and write regularly, which can directly lead to new client engagements as well as brand recognition and additional speaking opportunities. Several lawyers with whom I work teach CLE courses and have gotten new clients directly through them.

9. It’s ideal to find consistent touchpoints where you can demonstrate your value and expertise. Your goal is to keep the relationship with your top prospects “warm” and to ensure they keep you top of mind for future work. It may take months or years for someone to become a client, so you need to find ways to be in touch.

10. Ask your clients about their business goals, always be attuned to their needs and then find ways to add value to them. Be client-centric at all times.

11. Partner with a colleague at your firm to identify clients/prospects where you can work together to expand a relationship. Two heads can be better than one and can help you leverage your expertise.

12. You need consistent touchpoints to keep relationships warm.

13. Offer your clients something of value, such as free passes to an event, support their charitable causes, support them on LinkedIn, offer to partner with them on an article, invite them to speak on a panel with you. All of these things help to cement and strengthen your relationship with them.

14. And then finally, in order to truly be successful at business development you must make time for it. It’s an investment in yourself. You will see great results if you commit to what you say you will do each month.


Stefanie Marrone helps law firms effectively tell their stories and find their unique voices. Over the last 17 years, she has worked with some of the most prominent and innovative law firms in the world, developing and executing global revenue generating business development and communications strategies, including media relations, branding, and multi-channel content marketing and social media campaigns. She is very passionate about using social media for lead generation and brand building. She has a diverse range of experience in both Big Law and mid-size/small-law firms. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her latest writing on JD Supra.