Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Helping Attorneys to Rebuild Their Relationship Pipeline

It is a business development challenge of extraordinary proportion that many attorneys face. Multiple years of successful practice and suddenly their traditional pipelines/relationships dry-up or disappear. Their clients have moved to new markets the firm does not serve, they've been on the sell-side of too many transactions, or their clients have retired leaving no legacy relationships. No matter the cause it is a painful time for the attorney and a noble challenge for any marketing or business development professional to take on. There is much that can be done if the attorney is willing (if they are reluctant or unwilling is the topic of a different post to come).
  • Find out who they already know (that are left for them TO know) that can help in a rebuild. Have them set up meetings with these persons and ask the attorney to be honest in those meetings about their situation. "My client base has changed and I am going to rebuild my practice." They will find that with their honesty will come much needed understanding and help (with referrals and suggestions).
  • Look at your own business community activities. What are you doing in the community that you can offer inclusion to the attorney? Take them with you to your own meetings with industry people relevant to their practice. Whom do you know that could be a good relationship for them. Open your rolodex and share.
  • Do they have an area of true expertise that could benefit the existing clients of other attorneys? Talk to other attorneys at the firm and create synergy where you can. Recruit other attorneys to offer inclusion in their industry/community activities.
  • Get the attorney on the street meeting people. Sign them up for events. Go to the events with them and assist in introductions and relationship intelligence. Help them enlist in associations and get on active committees and boards.
  • Be tough if that is what is called for. Some habits and routines become ingrained and change is always tough. When they don't show up, skip opportunities, or are not responsive let them know you're paying attention to these things. While it may feel uncomfortable this is what you must do.
  • Spend private time with the attorney to offer mentoring and understanding. Often the most an attorney needs is a compatriot and a shoulder. They are already successful but need to know someone believes in them now for their success to continue.