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This is the second of three posts on the value of effective introduction skills. Read the first one, The Importance of a Good Introduction, here. Twenty years ago, I was working as the business development director for the Portland Office of Cooper & Lybrand, the international accounting firm that merged to form PricewaterhouseCoopers. The office […]

At a recent leadership roundtable event, WPG facilitated a discussion among managing partners and firm leaders on what they most need from CMOs and marketing teams. The ideas that came out of the discussion aren’t earth shattering—but they are the most essential (and often unsaid) ways in which marketing teams propel their firms forward. The […]

This is the first blog in a three-part series on the value of introductions and how good introduction skills lead to better client service and new business. Check back soon for the second installment. Introductions are everywhere. Think about it: Who among us doesn’t enjoy introducing our friends and colleagues to each other? It’s easy, it’s fun […]

Firms today are missing out on work because they’re failing to invest in a hugely important client contact: the in-house legal operations professional. Building relationships with GCs and in-house counsel is very valuable, but it often fails to translate into more work if you’re not also communicating regularly with the director of legal operations team. […]

It is the rare firm these days that does not offer some form of career and/or business development coaching services to its attorneys. Just about everyone in legal marketing has been asked to “coach” lawyers. Often, however, coaching attorneys in business development is easier said than done. And it can be complicated when succession issues […]

If you are like me, most weeks you find and save an article or two about legal marketing and business development. This past week, while sifting through the stack, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Finding Forrester. Released in 2000, it is the story of an unlikely friendship between a reclusive writer […]

For the last decade, we have worked with firms to launch, lead, develop and support client feedback interviews. And in almost every firm, the managing partner or chair is either already conducting relationship visits or planning to do them as soon as possible. They often come to us to discuss how to both train the […]

At Wicker Park Group, we conduct many business development workshops each year and believe strongly in the value of case studies as the best way for attorneys, usually acting in groups, to practice “meeting” with a client prospect for the purpose of developing rapport. Consistently, the experience is eye-opening. In practice, most lawyers spend too […]

Albeit unplanned and a bit happenstance, I have been interviewing quite a few alumni of our law firm clients. Alumni are great interview candidates for many reasons. They have insights and perceptions that go beyond the average firm client. They have “experienced both sides” and have an appreciation of what they would do differently. They […]

We have quite a few clients in the process of updating their websites and/or going through a brand overhaul. As many of you know, it is a massive undertaking both from a time and money perspective. But it is also a perfect opportunity to offer clarity to the marketplace on what your firm and lawyers […]

It happens. General counsel get fired—and sometimes fired very publicly. And law firms are rarely prepared for the unexpected people changes at their clients, let alone have a clear plan as to how they might impact the work and the larger client relationship. Ironically, law firms spend significant time thinking about what may happen if […]

As an alum of Chico State in California, I get the college’s newsletter a few times each year. I recently received one that caught my eye and reminded me of my current work training lawyers on business development. The business school staged a “Sweet Sixteen” competition that tested students’ strategic selling skills. The students, all […]

Many years ago, one of my prior firms looked to hire its first business development “lead generator.” The candidate we selected had graduated from law school and served as a client of the firm. He had an impressive network of contacts and understood his role—linking potential clients with attorneys at the firm. To avoid potential […]

As is customary, the New Year brings with it a variety of resolutions, plans and promises. As such, this is a great time to outline and schedule business development training for the year. Along with the traditional marketing and communication responsibilities, today’s CMOs are expected to oversee new and evolving business development and sales initiatives, […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from October 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.   In a recent post, we discussed the value of using stories in pitching you, your firm and what sets you apart. The value of telling your story was also mentioned in […]

Wicker Park Group recently had the opportunity to speak with Doug Luftman, the Chief Innovation Officer and General Counsel at Lecorpio. He shared insights on what GCs are looking for from outside counsel and how to develop and strengthen those relationships. Luftman said, “The most valuable thing is outside counsel being savvy about my business and having true […]

The election of Donald Trump as President has sent shock waves around the world. Indeed, the unexpected outcome has created many questions and much uncertainty about what will happen in the next few months and years. What opportunities does this transition of power to a business executive with strong conservative leanings but no government experience […]

Every Saturday morning, five baby boomers including myself join together for a 4- to 5-mile run. We’re not fast, but we are committed and make it whenever we can. Four of us work in legal: one is a solo practitioner, two work in different mid-size firms and me (the token business development consultant). Bob, the […]

Wayne Gretzky is famous for being one of the greatest hockey players in history. He is also known for inspiring thousands with his quotes. One of my favorite Gretzky quotes is: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” It is simple but incredibly powerful and exactly […]

In my work over the past year with individual associates and partners on client business development, I have noticed several common themes that are worth sharing: 1. In law practice client development, many lawyers are asking for a business development “template” to simply read and follow. To that, I repeat our mantra: “One size fits […]

One of the most important and sometimes overlooked skills associates need to perfect is the ability to lead/facilitate a variety of group meetings and discussions. Presentations to practice and industry group colleagues, pitches to prospects and business meetings with clients are just a few of the more common situations that demand effective leadership/facilitation skills. Leading […]

I recently conducted an interview that reminded me of one of my favorite client feedback interview experiences and the importance of knowing your clients’ legal budgets. As part of the interview process, we always conduct a prep interview with the relationship lawyer and key individuals working with the client. We ask about the history of […]

I began my legal career like the majority of law school graduates—by joining a law firm as a fresh-faced associate. My primary job responsibilities were to represent the firm’s financial institution clients in litigation matters. I had no assigned business development duties other than to keep our clients happy with our legal services. After twelve […]

In my career, I have had the opportunity to be general counsel for a bank holding company, a large state medical center and a state bar association. Each entity was different in terms of its leadership and operating procedures. However, there were certain common principles that guided outside counsel selection. Keep these mandates in mind […]

Not long after I made the move from law firm practice to general counsel at a Texas financial institution, I observed that the senior executives at our holding company (the key decisionmakers) all had internal people within the bank who served as “coaches.” These coaches were not the ultimate decisionmakers within the bank regarding projects […]

One of the most challenging jobs any general counsel encounters is guiding the company through litigation-related decisions. This process involves determining the company’s goals in the disputed matter, setting any budgeting constraints, choosing outside litigation counsel, assessing how much control and personal involvement in-house counsel and management want in the litigation, keeping company management informed […]

You’ve recruited good candidates for business development, and they’ve participated in a productive group training program. So what’s the next step to success? After participating in the group program, your lawyers are ready for one-on-one coaching sessions in order to adapt what they’ve learned and make it relevant to their individual practices. One-on-one sessions work […]

Business Development coaching takes time. It takes money. And it takes a lot of effort and dedication on the part of the firm, the coach and the lawyer. Ideally, firms are confident from the outset that the investment in coaching is worthwhile and the coaching candidates will take advantage of the opportunities. Otherwise, everyone ends […]

How much time do you typically spend each month seeking new clients? If you’re like many other firm lawyers, you are devoting great blocks of time to RFPs, speaking engagements, industry conferences, entertainment and much more in an effort to develop new client relationships. All of those activities are valuable and important, but you are […]

January 17 has been designated Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day because that is about how long most people who make resolutions actually stick with them. According to research conducted by Statistic Brain, only 8% of resolution makers are successful with their resolutions. That’s a pretty sad success rate. According to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology […]

Alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) are often studied, often debated and only sometimes tried. But with clients becoming more sophisticated in their choice of outside counsel and use of fee arrangements, you need to be prepared to answer this question: “Can we use an alternative fee arrangement rather than hourly billing in the matter your firm […]

As you kick off 2016, consider a few fresh training exercises for use at firm retreats or other gatherings. Experiential, active training has become a top priority for law schools and is also highly valuable in the development of a lawyer’s skills regardless of age or experience level. For law firms, interactive application exercises can […]

Towards the end of the year, our interview schedules slow down and we spend our days developing new content, cleaning up files and planning for the New Year. It is a great time to reflect and focus. A recent week of events made me realize the value of something we often take for granted: The […]

In my annual year-end scramble to obtain the required Continuing Legal Education credits, I attended a GC panel hosted by our local Legal Marketing Association. As the moderator asked the panel members questions about how they purchase legal services, the same response came up over and over: Relationships are the key. Early in the discussion […]

I believe many—if not most—lawyers choose to attend law school in part because they hate the idea of having to sell something. They go to law school to learn about the complex system of laws and rules and the subtleties of the practice of law. The thought of selling yourself, your practice group or your […]

Earlier this year, a CMO friend asked for help designing and delivering a two-hour session on business development at the annual women partners’ retreat. Business development had been a topic at every retreat for a number of years with mixed success, so the CMO, Tara Weintritt and I decided to identify five influential women partners […]

In a recent post, we discussed the value of using stories in pitching you, your firm and what sets you apart. The value of telling your story was also mentioned in an insightful series of tweets posted by Google Ventures partner Rick Klau a few months ago. Klau, an entrepreneur familiar with the legal marketspace, […]

We often hear that business development is a contact sport, and there is validity to that comment. The more face-to-face interaction you have with current and potential clients, the more likely you are to be at the top of their lists when they need legal services. However, when we at Wicker Park Group work with […]

In recent decades, many firms have embraced the transition of certain administrative and management duties such as pricing, project management and process improvement from the attorneys to professional staff. Yet there is continued reluctance to the hiring of client-facing business development (i.e. sales) staff. Why does this reluctance to sales support still exist? And how […]

In the process of preparing for client interviews, we often get asked to obtain the opinions, interest or perceived value of the firm’s newsletters. It is a good question and worth asking given how much time your firm, staff and lawyers spend writing articles. To be candid, the answers range. Many interviewees cannot recall if […]

Last month, I spent two days with my dear friend Sanju Kripalani at Wicker Park Group’s annual client event. Sanju has one of those careers that very well may be unique to him: pedigreed education, New York law firm, Portland partner, DJ, marketing partner, patron of the arts, club owner, general counsel, yachtsman and now, […]

Telling a great story is often the difference between being listened to and being heard. In law firms, you are potentially telling a great story whether you are pitching to a client, negotiating compensation or winning over leadership in the quest for resources and support. Outside of law firms we tell stories for many reasons, including […]

There is an old Peanuts comic strip featuring Charlie Brown and Lucy that resonated with me when I began working with professionals on business development for the first time. In it, Lucy—the psychiatrist who is “IN”—is trying to help a befuddled Charlie Brown get his life in order. Lucy says to Charlie: “Life is like […]

If you ask most legal marketing professionals about their top pain point and/or worst use of resources, lawyer rankings and awards always rise to the top. They are growing in popularity and awareness, and the time demands to do them well are considerable. However, despite the thousands of interviews Wicker Park Group has conducted over […]

As we discussed in a recent post, the significant benefits that come from working with a business development coach include a personalized business development plan, accountability and access to fresh ideas. Identifying the right coach for your particular situation is the first, and often the most important, step in working with a coach. Take a […]

I’ve conducted quite a few interviews recently where the client contact was previously an associate at the firm. It creates an interesting dynamic and is something very important to consider as the marketplace and industry evolve. Years ago, lawyers “grew up” in firms. They entered as associates, climbed the corporate ladder and then became partners. […]

Everyone benefits from coaching. It’s rare to find any high achiever who doesn’t look to a coach for candor, reassurance and advice. Professional athletes, entertainers, CEOs and others at the top of their game often employ multiple coaches to stay fit and focused. In a similar manner, individual business development coaching helps lawyers focus on […]

In its 2014 “Global Trust in Advertising” report, market research giant Nielson Company found that 92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations over all other forms of advertising. That is up 18% since 2007. Based on Wicker Park Group’s body of client feedback interviews from the same time period, it is likely that an even higher […]

During the 2015 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, keynote speaker Daniel Pink discussed many themes related to the role sales plays in the lawyer-client relationship. For decades, lawyers have pushed back aggressively that they aren’t in the business of sales. Of course, they are wrong. Sales is not something out of Glengarry Glen Ross (Pink redefines the […]

In the last 100 or so interviews I’ve conducted with general counsel, business executives, staff attorneys and other corporate buyers of legal services, I have heard 100 different answers to the question: How does your organization hire outside counsel? Every organization is different, and every law firm relationship is different. The idea that there is […]

Client Service That Sets You Apart In this multi-part series, we explore the components of an integrated business development training curriculum. Click here to read our previous posts: Part 1 (Intro to the Matrix), Part 2 (Product Knowledge), Part 3 (Interpersonal Skills) and Part 4 (Reputation). Over the past two months, we’ve detailed strategies for […]

Building a Distinctive Reputation In this multi-part series, we explore the components of an integrated business development training curriculum. Click here to read our previous posts: Part 1 (Intro to the Matrix), Part 2 (Product Knowledge) and Part 3 (Interpersonal Skills). Recently, while preparing for a group retreat, I asked a few senior associates to […]

Interpersonal Skills: The Foundation for Strong Relationships In this multi-part series, we explore the basics of creating an integrated business development training curriculum. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.  Developing a successful client relationship often requires lawyers to pass what we will refer to as the “chemistry test,” a visceral combination of requirements, […]

Product Knowledge: One Key to Successful Cross-selling In this multi-part series, we explore the basics of creating an integrated business development training curriculum. Read Part 1 here.  My oldest son Jess is a gifted sales professional. The best advice he shared with me? “Dad, if you want to be successful in sales, you must first know […]

Part 1: Intro to the Grid In this multi-part series, we explore the basics of creating an integrated business development training curriculum. We know lawyers are incredibly busy people. And we also know lawyers, like everyone else, each learn differently. These two facts—lack of time and individual learning styles—reinforce the need for firms to create […]

Having worked with countless law firms, one thing stands out more profoundly than almost anything else: Law firms hate change. They dread economic change, structural change, organizational change and—perhaps above all others—changes with clients. One of the most difficult client changes is a client’s retirement or, even worse, a client being fired. When I ask […]

Lindsay Griffiths, the Director of Global Relationship Management with the International Lawyers Network, has a great write-up of a panel discussion on project management, fee arrangements and what law firms need to do to serve their clients’ needs in a relatively fast-moving landscape. The panel was held in April at the Legal Marketing Association annual […]

In the November 2010 issue of the American Lawyer new AmLaw editor-in-chief Robin Sparkman (former editor of sibling publication Corporate Counsel) opens the issue with an editorial that tackles head-on the resistance firm leadership has to engaging in client feedback. Select quotes include:  “Many partners simply don’t want their MP or chairman to meet with their biggest clients—even if […]

My friend and in-house marketing professional extraordinaire Heather Milligan of Barger & Wollen has an excellent post at The Legal Watercooler on how to counteract the not uncommon lawyer stance that they are “too busy to market.” She offers great advice on how to overcome the failure’s of lawyers to understand the value of networking, and I am privileged to be mentioned in […]

A recent survey of the web habits of general in-house counsel has revealed that almost 90% of them agreed that a law firm’s website plays a key role in influencing a purchasing decision. The survey was conducted by Wicker Park Group on behalf of Hubbard One, a Thomson Reuters business that provides services for marketing […]

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