Balancing the Practice of Law with Business Development

In the quest for the perfect law firm business model, I’m often asked about the best way to balance the practice of law with the time needed to develop new business.

While there is no silver bullet, here are three first steps to consider when developing a plan to grow your practice.

1) Start with the partnership.

If your firm has a strong business development culture, your equity partners are regularly out there marketing themselves and your firm. But do a gut check. Typically 20% of partners generate 80% of a firm’s business. That may mean that more attention should be focused on helping rainmakers generate more rain. However, it does not mean that they are the only ones who need to be marketing.

Every attorney in the firm has a responsibility to dedicate non-billable time on helping the firm grow. In my experience, not every attorney needs a personal business plan. Non-rainmaker attorney time may be better spent supporting specific marketing and business development initiatives at the firm or practice group level.

2) Evaluate your current workload.

Where does your work come from currently? If it’s another partner that is feeding you work, how can your support her business development goals? If you rely on referrals, what are you doing to stay in touch with those referral sources? If you are trying to develop a new area of practice, what speaking or writing opportunities are available to you to raise your visibility before prospective clients?

3) What is your current utilization?

To meet your professional goals (firm or personal), how much of your time are you willing to work?

What percentage of that time must be spent on billable matters to meet your minimum financial goals?

How much time is left?

If the answer is zero, you need to rethink your business plan. There are only 24 hours in every day. To maintain a steady pipeline of business, you need to make time to do it. That means spending less time on current clients or devoting more non-work time toward your business development efforts.

It’s all about balance.

Posted on February 16, 2011 in Business Development, Law Firm Management, Marketing

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