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So you want to be a rainmaker? Like the young violinist who wants to know the way to Carnegie Hall, the answer is practice. You ask, But how can I practice? I, a mere junior associate — one little spore in the big mushroom patch in that dark warren of offices that clients never see? Okay, so maybe the rainmaking days are a ways off. But as Mary Lynne Price would say, “It’s never too early” to imagine yourself as that most welcome member of the firm: a lawyer who brings home the bacon. Last month, Price and a few colleagues at Pillsbury Winthrop’s New York office conducted a seminar on the matter. Not for partners, not for senior associates, not for juniors. But for summers, since it is never too early. “There are two things lacking at most law firms: a comprehensive business development program for associates, and instruction in how to lead,” said Valerie Fitch, director of attorney development at Pillsbury and an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School. “You don’t get any of that in school. You come to work as a lawyer, and you’re just somehow expected to know.” A case in point would be Richard W. Erwine, 34, an eighth-year associate at Morgan & Finnegan, an intellectual property boutique. Erwine, a graduate of Ohio State University College of Law, described the informal apprenticeship model that seems the common path at most firms. “We don’t have a structured system,” said Erwine of his Morgan Finnegan experience. “What the partners have done, especially my mentor Mark Abate, is include me in meetings with prospective clients. I would help with putting the marketing materials together, and then I’d see and hear how the partner would handle the presentation. “This is good opportunity, and always a good lesson,” he said. “The more exposure of this kind you can get, regardless of how young you are, the better off you’ll be. So I certainly agree with the [Pillsbury] philosophy.” REQUESTS FOR PRESENTATIONS Likewise at Kirkland & Ellis, there is no formal structure for educating associates in client development technique. Nevertheless, senior partner Frederick Tanne and other partners encourage mid-level associates to accompany them at RFPs (Request for Presentation). “That way, they can get a real sense of how you land business,” said Tanne. “We also encourage younger associates to cultivate relationships with our clients. I always tell them, ‘You’re not going to be a junior associate all your life.’” Tanne also likes to pass on advice he gained years ago from a mentor of his own: “Be polite to the people across the table. They may be your opponents now, but they can be your clients later.” Many firms, especially in these economically stressed times, hire outside consultants to help partners as well as associates in the ways and means of growing business. One of the leading consultants in the field is Chambers & Asher Speechworks of Atlanta, which regularly conducts seminars in New York. Sally Williamson, a Speechworks vice president, said law firms are increasingly called for RFPs. “They’re being forced into beauty contests,” said Williamson. “That environment is sort of new to lawyers. Too often, a lawyer just says [to a prospect], ‘I’m a lawyer’ when he ought to be telling people what his speciality is, and what his particular value is. “Generally speaking, we advise our clients that prospecting plus value over time leads to money.” Price, the director of business development at Pillsbury, provided the summer associates gathered for the seminar a host of career tips. “Your career is a long-distance race, not a sprint,” she said. “A lot of this is common sense. It’s not difficult, but it can be hard at first to integrate into your daily routine.” Common things such as returning phone calls promptly. “Forget about returning them on the same day,” said Price. “Now you just about have to return calls within the hour. If you’re not Johnny-on-the-spot, there’s another firm that is. I hate to make this sound so dog-eat-dog.” She further advised the young lawyers to conduct themselves along the lines of baseball players — team members to be sure, but ever mindful of individual performance statistics. “You really need to be the owner of the future of your career,” she said. “As associates, you can be the eyes and ears of your team’s effort at bringing in new business.” Fitch assured the assembled that while no one at Pillsbury would expect a young associate to land a million-dollar account, efforts to bring in business are certainly noticed. “And after all, you never know how far a small matter can go,” said Price. “Anything that matches work the firm does is game. Unless you see it’s a no-win situation, bring it in.” DEVELOPMENT ALLOWANCE The administration of Proskauer Rose encourages precisely such enterprise, with a special bankroll to make it all the easier. “For quite a while now, we’ve set aside a business development allowance for associates at third-year level and above, and for more junior associates on a case-by-case basis,” said Anita Zigman, director of associate affairs at Proskauer. “The fund lets our associates entertain clients and potential clients without having to get permission each and every time. “We want our associates to feel empowered this way.” Zigman said her firm also arranges periodic small-group luncheons where senior partners discuss business development techniques with associates. In addition, she said, existing Proskauer clients are periodically invited to speak to associates about client expectations. Such introductions to clients can be vital for young associates with a bent toward growing their firm business. “I think everybody would say that your existing clients are your best source of new business,” said Zigman. That and a source even closer at hand: the personal address book of classmates that every young lawyer is advised to keep. A certain young lawyer from Arkansas famous for being scrupulous about such networking wound up becoming president of the United States. Save for becoming president, Donovan W. Burke knows the value of keeping his Rolodex up to date. “I kept in touch with the people I went to school with,” said Burke, 34, a sixth-year corporate associate at Pillsbury and a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. “They were just people I enjoyed being with. Every one of them has turned into a client. I never called them, they called me.” Another way to get those vital calls, Zigman suggested, is to simply be highly visible. “We very much encourage our associates to write articles, join bar association committees, speak, make social contact with clients,” said Zigman. “Anything that gets their names out there.” Erwine agrees with such advice, and has received the same from partners at Morgan Finnegan. He follows that counsel, and offers some of his own for junior associates. “Every day, you should spend a little non-billable time making calls, working on an article, sending a note — whatever,” he said. “Do a bit of marketing for a half-hour every day and it will benefit you for the rest of your career.”

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