By ED POLL, Special to Lawyers Weekly
For law firms to be successful they must be more than a collection of single practitioners. Success in the law, like success at sports, is a team effort – if the team isn’t firing on all cylinders, it gets away from what made it successful and people no longer play their true roles.
No law firm can be profitable and growing without a range of skills and abilities. Not every player on a sports team is expected to be a star, and not every lawyer in a law firm should be expected to play similar roles in the life of the firm.
Yet all lawyers, working together as a team, can share client information and legal knowledge, to the benefit of the whole firm.
One of the best ways to visualize law firm roles is by using three simplified but recognizable characterizations for lawyer types:
• Finders – those who generate and bring in new business. These are the rainmakers with the Midas touch, unsurpassed at aggressiveness, geniality and promotional skills.
• Minders – the members of the firm who are on the front lines, with responsibility for both maintaining client relationships and coordinating the efforts of their colleagues to ensure that client needs are met.
• Grinders – lawyers who are technically skilled at legal work but not at business development. They often were brought in to serve the principle of leverage, doing work at much lower cost than the partners who billed out that work at the higher cost partner rate.
Although finders get the attention and grinders play a useful role, minders are the real heart of any firm. And if you are a minder you can do a great deal to become self-reliant and independent in maintaining and developing client relationships, even while contributing within the firm overall.
Start with the low-hanging fruit – the people who like and trust you and have worked with you for years. Make a list of these people who you deal with and start a database on them complete with contact information. These are the ones who you are a minder for – who call you if they need help with a problem.
For each of the people on the list designate:
- How you got to know them. If they were referred by someone else is that person on the list?
- What you’ve done for them. You can develop this information into case studies that you can show other clients to demonstrate your capabilities.
- When you last connected with them. It should be monthly that you do so in some fashion, sending them an e-mail or an article that would be of interest. If you send them an article by someone else in the firm, they will contact you and not the author; but to your colleagues in the firm, you will be a team player.
Now, write down the tactics that you are comfortable using to reach out to people: maybe a brown bag lunch for the people at their facility, or a virtual brown bag lunch that you can do online right from your own office. Continue this minder process with all your clients and within six months you will find your business increasing dramatically. Suddenly, you may be the finder.
Editor’s note: Poll is the principal of LawBiz Management, a national law firm practice-management consultancy based in Venice, Calif. For more information, visit www.lawbiz.com.