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From the Editor: Today, we launch our new National Law Journal series, “On the Rise: Voices from Young Lawyers.” We will feature pieces from our 2019 D.C. Rising Stars and other prominent young attorneys in Washington and beyond. In their columns, the writers will tackle key topics on business development, transitioning from public to private practice (and back), successful law firm diversity practices and more. We start our series with MoloLamken’s Eric Nitz, who writes about how young lawyers can build successful strategies for client development.                                                                                                                                       —Lisa Helem, editor-in-chief, The National Law Journal


Client development can seem to be one of the most mystifying aspects of legal practice. That’s particularly true for younger lawyers. Law schools (usually) do not teach client-development strategies, and most firms do not prioritize client-development training, formal or otherwise, for their associates or new partners. But business development boils down to a basic principle: clients only hire lawyers that they know and trust. Earning their confidence does not happen overnight. It takes time. For young lawyers, that is good news. With long careers ahead of them, time is the one critical advantage and valuable asset that even the most senior rainmakers lack.

With the right strategies, a young lawyer can excel at business development and can build his or her own client base. The earlier in a career that a lawyer begins thinking about client development, the more opportunities that lawyer will have for building trust and confidence with potential clients.

Develop a Sterling, Outward-Facing Reputation 

At some level, every lawyer understands the importance of a professional reputation. But often, younger lawyers are more concerned about their reputations within the firm than without. After all, one’s reputation within the firm can influence promotion decisions and, at some firms, compensation. But a lawyer’s reputation outside the firm is what causes a potential client to seek out that lawyer’s expertise or assistance.

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