Making the best of what you’ve got

To maximise your fee-earning potential, your firm’s support functions are critical. By Matthew Record

A key benefit of working in a partnership is the support you can get from colleagues to maximise your fee-earning time. Most firms have non-legal professionals who can help you type, invoice, research and market yourself. Working well with ‘support staff’ increases the effectiveness of the time you spend on business development (BD), so learn how to use them well.

You can increase your BD return by working closely with that department on the following: Developing a personal business plan that ties your career goals with those of your practice group and your firm.

Scheduling regular BD activities to keep you and your practice area promoting itself.

Setting up monitoring functions to work out your return from your investment in BD. Identifying the right clients and opportunities to focus your attention on.

Helping you set goals for your most important clients and a plan of attack for them.

Providing information/research about key clients and their industries on a regular basis and before important meetings.

Surveying clients annually or after a major piece of work and overseeing any necessary follow-up.

Analysing regular profitability/work in progress/ write-offs of client matters and relationships.

Helping you identifying new prospects.

Identifying other practice areas that can introduce you to their clients.

Cleaning your contacts list regularly. Building bespoke, client-focused presentations.

Coaching you on how to deliver the right message during client presentations.

Learning how to differentiate your practice area and expertise from the competition’s.

Managing responses to requests for proposals and writing those tenders.

Helping you develop value propositions for your clients.

Developing and maintaining a ‘lead tracking’ tool. Planning client-focused seminars and events.

Putting together invitation lists and sending out client-focused information about events.

Analysing feedback from events and following up leads. Letting your firm know about your clients and how they can promote you to their clients.

Writing client-focused website and brochure copy.

Reviewing legal articles before they are submitted to the press.

Helping you build relationships with journalists in the trade press and media.

Scheduling and preparing for media interviews and speeches.

You can never avoid investing your own time into BD, but using support will achieve better results. If you do not have access to internal support, consider hiring someone for several hours a month. Give them access to your secretary so they can work together. Record the amount of time you spend doing BD, get organised and use others to help you feel more comfortable doing this part of your job. The results will come.

Matthew Record provides interim business development support and coaching to law firms