Do you want to be a rainmaker at your firm? It’ll take hard work and determination. Thankfully, a recent article by Greedy Associate’s Betty Wang points the way with five tips to how to become a rainmaker.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, some of us went to law school with only one goal in mind: to make it rain,” Wang writes. “For those of you who are upfront about your desires to practice law while raking in the dough, remember that it still takes work.”
Wang’s five “cold, hard truths” to making it rain are:
- You are a salesperson. Even though your job probably already involves salesmanship, becoming a rainmaker “involves the art of selling yourself and your product (the law, in this case) in a sometimes more direct method, in a variety of situations,” Wang writes.
- Rainmaking is a business. Rainmaking requires using business skills that are very different from the skills needed to practice law without ever losing sight of the law or remaining compliant to it during business transactions. So know the rules before you do anything.
- You’ll need to keep your rainmaking game-face on. “There are rainmaking opportunities everywhere,” she writes, “from the golf course to your neighbor’s annoying monthly potlucks.” Keep a look out for the opportunities at all times.
- Networking should be second nature. Keep networking with other lawyers and professionals at the top of your list. A 2012 Greedy Associates article offered several suggestions of where to network, including local bar associations, the chamber of commerce and alumni organizations.
- It’s not for everyone. “Rainmaking requires creating a pretty significant amount of new business for your firm, which requires a certain skillset,” Wang writes. “For business-oriented, more extroverted types, this may come more easily. Lawyer introverts, however, may feel differently.”
“Rest assured, though,” Wang concludes, “that even if you can’t keep up with this lifestyle, being a successful attorney might still suit you just fine.”
The increased collection and use of data also increases the likelihood of a data security breach. And if you’re a lawyer or law firm, you’re not just concerned about how security breaches could affect your business—you have an obligation to protect your clients’ data as well.
According to an article in Law Technology News by BDO Consulting’s Clark Schweers and Jeff Hall, as the threat of data theft has risen, data security has moved from being the sole responsibility of the IT department to “a topic of discussion at the board level and a top priority for senior executives.”
Unfortunately, this rise in awareness has not had a concurrent rise in cross-functional, company-wide teams that vet “specific, proactive plans” to combat data breaches. But such breaches seem to fall into the same categories. The article identifies five of the most common types of data breaches:
- Technology failure. This includes both software and hardware failures, such as a failed firewall or a compromised server.
- Criminal act by outsider. Such as hacking and portable device theft.
- Employee misconduct. Examples include collusion with a competitor, and theft or unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information.
- Human error. Such as lost or unsecured data portals, misdirected data and improper security configurations.
- Vendor error. This includes data, packages and email accidentally sent the wrong address or person.
The article notes that once there is a data breach, there are usually three responses:
- Retain. The management (and reduction) of the risk is kept within the organization with inside employees.
- Allocate. In-house (and external, if needed) legal counsel “contractually shift the risk to customers, suppliers, and business partners of the entity.”
- Transfer. The risk is transferred to another entity, usually through insurance that specifically covers data breaches and cyber-attacks.
The writers urge organizations to do all they can to mitigate their risk—either through using their in-house IT team or employing outside risk management professionals since before a plan can be put in place, leaders need to know exactly what kind of threat they face.
“Clearly there is a financial and resource limitation to protecting against each and every possible data breach or cyber-attack,” Schweers and Hall write. “But it is critical for organizations to develop awareness and stay informed of the evolving options for managing these risks and putting the above strategies in place.”
For, as Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Money can be a very emotional issue—especially when people are surprised about how much something costs. Yet if a client understands the reasons behind the cost of legal services (and that you’re responsible about providing those services), you’re much more likely to get paid without having to discount your fees.
That’s the gist of Sally J. Schmidt’s “Good Lawyers Talk Money with Their Clients” post on Attorney at Work. “What clients usually want are better communication about, sensitivity to and management of costs,” she writes.
To that end, she offers six tips on how to better communicate with clients about money:
- Have good conversations up front about the expected costs of services.
- Be clear about what is or is not included in your estimate, and what factors will contribute to higher costs.
- Hold the line on expenses.
- Be a good steward of the client’s money.
- Look for ways to cut costs.
- Keep the client posted.
“If you are able to manage expectations about the cost of your services, you are much less likely to have to discount or write off your fees,” she writes. “[Y]ou don’t need clients to feel you are inexpensive; you need clients to feel they received value.”
To read her full post, click here.
With the fastest law firm growth happening in niche markets and practice areas, such as energy and litigation, is specialization the key to law firms’ future? Research and hiring trends seem to back up the trend.
- “Firms have a critical need for laser-focused professionals who can help them grow their most lucrative service areas and maximize efficiencies,” Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International (RHI) says in an RHI white paper “The Specialist Economy.” But you also need to market those skills effectively.
- The so-called “lawyer glut” is not so grim, according to a PR Web article. Mississippi College School of Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt, who is quoted in the article, believes that “there will be increased opportunities for law grads and specialized attorneys,” as well as for those who wish to work in rural areas.
- Legal Cheek notes that everyone, including sole practitioners, can find success by following their passions and creating a niche practice—even if that niche is something as unexpected as becoming the “Obscenity Lawyer.”
Ideas. You can’t do anything without one.
Luckily, you don’t need to have any of your own to succeed since ideas spread faster than the common cold (though often with similar pain and discomfort). The Aspen Ideas Festival, however, strives to make idea exploration less painful; it is dedicated to providing a neutral and balanced venue for “dialogue and exchange of ideas.”
Now in its ninth year, the Aspen Ideas Festival is presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic and held in Aspen, Colo. Thomson Reuters’ Alison Frankel will be providing ongoing coverage on her blog . In her first installment, which covers Katie Couric’s interview with data-guru Nate Silver, she wrote that the festival is “where political, business and art bigwigs (including lawyers such as Robert Bennett of Williams & Connolly and Robert Gruendel of DLA Piper) gather … to talk about the big ideas of the day.”
This year’s event includes program tracks on the future of America, television, energy and transportation, as well as the economy, Middle East, health, design, space exploration, and citizen artists. The 2013 festival is divided into two four-day session, June 26 to 29 and June 29 to July 2.
To learn more about the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival, click here. To follow Frankel’s coverage, check out her blog and click on one of the many following options.