In the News

Rainmaking Tips for Young Lawyers

May 08, 2013

It’s May, and it’s been raining for eight months straight. With summer right around the corner, why would a young lawyer possibly want to increase the amount of rain in their practice? David Markowitz and Matt Donohue, from Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf PC, explained the benefits of rainmaking to a full house at a recent MBA YLS event.

Rainmaking is doing something that you otherwise would not have done to develop business for you or your firm. The benefits of rainmaking include increased income, job stability, and mobility (both within your current firm or to another firm). And, perhaps most importantly, it helps to improve your practice because it gives you more control over the quality of the matters that you handle. Sounds great, right? So, why don’t more lawyers do it? Markowitz and Donohue explained that the most common reason for failing to make it rain is that the efforts rarely, if ever, lead to an immediate reward. Rather, the efforts often do not pay dividends until years later. Even those who begin by making the most earnest efforts often become discouraged by time limitations and the fact that rainmaking involves participating in activities that one may not otherwise do.

According to Markowitz, the most successful rainmakers make a personal commitment to engaging in a long-term process for developing business. Because the most successful rainmaking is the result of extended efforts, Markowitz suggests developing good rainmaking habits early in your career. Unsurprisingly, the first step is to set a goal for business generation, such as, “I would like to bring in X dollars of business by January 2014.” Once you have identified your goal, there are essentially five steps that will enable you to achieve your rainmaking goals:

1. Identify your targets– the individuals or organizations that have the work that you seek. Capitalize on the relationships that you already have and seek opportunities to cultivate relationships that you would like to have.

2. Identify the persuasive message that will motivate your targets to give you the work that you want. Look for opportunities to demonstrate how you can help them, so that they in turn will be more motivated to help you.

3. Determine the delivery mechanism for your message. In other words, figure out what activities and events you will do to get your message out.

4. Execute your plan by engaging in those activities. According to Markowitz, the most successful rainmakers approach the process with an energized “never stop selling” approach.

5. Assess, evaluate, and adjust your rainmaking plan as necessary to make your plan work. You will increase your chances of success if you revisit your plan regularly to determine which efforts are yielding results and which are not. Donohue explained that he has achieved success in his rainmaking efforts by building relationships and being consistent. He suggests seeking opportunities to build your relationships with your targets by asking them about their needs and concerns and demonstrating how you can help. That might involve pitching a creative solution to a prospective client or simply sending a referral to an attorney who has a complementary practice area. No matter what, deliver on your promises 100% of the time, because your initial interactions will form the foundation for a trusting relationship and your reputation in the future.

After you’ve developed your relationships by giving your targets what they need, be confident about asking for what you need. For example, if you are seeking referrals from other attorneys, explain your area of interest and indicate that you would appreciate their referrals in that area. The worst that can happen is that they say “no” or the relationship is not reciprocal. It’s all part of the process of executing and adjusting your plans. If it doesn’t work out, move on to the next opportunity.

Finally, Markowitz and Donohue recommend regularly tracking and revisiting your goals. When you achieve success, continue to set new goals to help consistently improve your performance. Most importantly, be patient and celebrate successful efforts often.

The article, written by Merrill Maiano and Tyler Volm, was originally published in the May edition of Multnomah Lawyer.