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One of the many curious things one observes at The Firm is that while some lawyers slave away, put in the long hours and devote themselves to the law, other lawyers are rarely in the office, don’t seem to know much about the law or anything else and rarely touch legal documents that bury other lawyers. Even harder to understand is why the latter type of attorney does far better both financially and in terms of advancement at The Firm. The explanation for this can usually be found in the rain. In today’s legal marketplace, the importance of an attorney’s legal skills pales in comparison to proficiency in developing business (also referred to as “rainmaking,” but please, never refer to it as “ambulance chasing”). Having as few as two or three loyal blue-chip clients can enable any attorney, no matter how incompetent or underqualified, to skate through a prosperous legal career while less fortunate lawyers waste their lives trying to become effective advocates. It has always been a plus for lawyers when they bring clients to The Firm. In healthier economic times, however, The Firm had an abundance of clients and placed far greater emphasis on producing quality work product. This has changed dramatically over the past year as many clients have scaled back their activities and many have gone out of business. These developments have led to fierce competition among lawyers for clients — The Firm’s lifeblood. For those who succeed in landing clients, their stock at The Firm soars. More importantly, so does their compensation as they gradually give up practicing law to make a career out of developing business for The Firm. Few lawyers continue to concentrate on providing quality representation to their clients in hopes of getting referrals based on their performance and professional reputation. For the most part, today’s rainmakers use far more sophisticated and refined techniques to bring clients to The Firm. Primary among these, and the key to successful business development, is joining groups and organizations that will facilitate making the contacts necessary to get referrals. The more organizations the lawyer becomes affiliated with, the better the chances of coming into contact with individuals in need of legal counsel. The Rodent suggests joining each of the following: Well-Connected Family. Make every effort to be born into a family with strong connections to the business community. If you screw up on this, be sure to marry well. Exclusionary Downtown Clubs. There’s nothing better for establishing a relationship with a potential client than a game of squash or billiards at an exclusive downtown club. After the game, lie around naked in the sauna with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. This provides the perfect opportunity to convince your future client what a fine attorney you are. You’ll know new business is about to come your way once you get snapped on the butt by your new client’s rolled-up towel. Open to All, Egalitarian Athletic Clubs. Join one of these clubs if you aspire to be on the U.S. Supreme Court someday and don’t want to be associated with a club with a history of discrimination. While you won’t pick up the heavy hitters here, small and midsize clients can often be found. These clubs also serve as excellent training grounds for young lawyers. Bar Associations. Any organizations related to the state or county Bar are business development fronts organized primarily by and for those who can’t get into the Club. Unless you’re seeking legal malpractice clients, you’re wasting time that can be better spent in the sauna. You might as well put an ad in the Yellow Pages. Religious Groups. Share your faith with people who will put their faith in The Firm. In the legal world, “born again” is synonymous with learning that one’s spirituality (sincere or otherwise) can help build a book of business. Avoid making the common mistake of limiting yourself to one religion. Be Jewish on Saturday, a Christian on Sunday! Add a new faith each month. Charitable Organizations. Determine the worthiness of a cause based on which potential clients are active in its organization. Research what the charity du jour is where you live, and always be ready to quickly switch your devotion to a new organization when a hotter and more profitable cause comes along. Group Therapy. Many successful rainmakers land clients they meet at group therapy sessions. Clients are often most vulnerable and open to sales pitches in this environment. Of course, if you’re not a joiner or just don’t like the idea of rainmaking, you can continue spending all your waking hours researching esoteric legal issues and doing the other drudgery that is the law. Who knows, you might actually succeed on the basis of hard work and legal expertise. If, however, you like the idea of getting out of the office, onto the golf course and making more money at the same time, join up and get ready to wine and dine your way to a flourishing legal career. See you at the Club! The Rodent is a syndicated columnist and author of “Explaining the Inexplicable: The Rodent’s Guide to Lawyers.” His e-mail address is [email protected]

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