I bet you and I can both agree that bringing in clients is a good thing, whether you’re an associate at a large or small firm or a solo practitioner. Business development is critical to the success of any associate and absolutely essential for young solos.
When I first decided to hang out a shingle, the No. 1 question I got was how I would bring in my own clients. Honestly, the answer to that question is the No. 1 reason why I opened my own law practice
After college, I moved to Spain for a year to teach English in the Madrid public school system. When I got back to the states to start law school at the University of Baltimore, I began teaching English as a Second Language (ESOL) to adults through the Community College of Baltimore County.
Every semester that I taught a class, one or two students would approach me with legal issues. As a law student, I couldn’t ethically give them legal advice but I always helped direct them to a lawyer or community resource center that could.
While I was studying for the Bar, I figured I would start applying for jobs as an associate when it hit me: Why should I start working for someone else when I can work for myself? I realized that my former students were potential clients and referral sources. I had a community of individuals who knew me and trusted me. The ESOL community has been a key factor in the success of my office. In fact, the first call to my office was from a student referred by a fellow ESOL instructor.
“All things being equal, people do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust,” writes Bob Burg in his book, “Endless Referrals.”
What community or religious organizations are you already involved in? Where do you volunteer? You may already be sitting on a potential client base.
If you aren’t involved in anything outside of work, get involved! Find something you’re genuinely interested in. Meet people, develop relationships, and determine how you can serve their legal needs. Business will come naturally and you’ll see growth in your practice or set yourself apart from the other associates at your firm.