Client Development Tips

  • David A. Perlick, Perlick Legal Counsel PC

    “The book is fabulous. I loved it, and I look forward to implementing more of your great ideas. It is very readable, and filled with specific, easy-to-implement strategies for lawyers looking to bring their practice to the next level. Thank you for your continued support of the growth of my career!”

  • Betsy Beorn Spellman, CMO, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

    “David’s approach emphasizes action – and this book brings together subject experts with practical tactics that give attorneys the foundation they need to realize their potential as business developers. I value David’s insight and guidance, and I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to transform their business development culture.”

  • Jonathan Fitzgarrald, former Chief Marketing Officer of Greenberg Glusker and author of

    “Secrets of the Masters is the most comprehensive, yet practical “how to” guide I’ve seen for
    developing business in the legal industry. Whether you’re a young attorney starting to build a practice and reputation, or a seasoned practitioner looking to achieve the next level of success, this book is your roadmap. Simply stated, if you heed its principles, you will make more money.”

  • Peter Kellett, Chairman and CEO, Dykema

    “When it comes to business development, David Freeman is superb. He brings a cost-efficient and confidence-inspiring approach to the challenging task of improving law firm business development practices. He has a deep understanding of today’s competitive legal services industry, and knows how to teach busy practitioners how to compete and win. Secrets of the Masters is a robust compilation of his thinking, supplemented by the wisdom and experience of more than two dozen top-flight legal marketing experts. I highly recommend David for any organization looking to grow its business, and any lawyer looking to build his or her practice should have a dog-eared copy of this report on their bookshelf.”

  • David Zambito, Esq., Saul Ewing, Harrisburg, PA

    “As a lateral coming from a government position, David Freeman helped me think through ways that I could best utilize contacts made with private industry during my tenure with the government. He understood the sensitivities involved with the transition and was mindful of delicate issues, including ethical limitations and internal firm politics. While landing clients ultimately depends on good old-fashioned hard work, David Freeman Consulting Group helps you focus your time and efforts on marketing techniques that have the highest likelihood of success. The training has proven successful for me. Best of all, David understands that marketing should be fun and invigorating.”

  • Timothy E. Hoeffner, partner, Saul Ewing LLP, Philadelphia

    “Like a great batting coach, David teaches partners that the most important part of business development is the follow through. David helped our lateral partners to understand that the best source of referrals is found in the office next door and with each of one of their partners.”

  • David Peterman, Head of the Houston office Corporate, Banking and Business Section, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP

    “David Freeman Consulting Group does for me what I do for my clients. My clients call me because I am doing deals and solving problems all day and every day. That is what we lawyers do. We listen to our client’s problem, ask them questions, and make suggestions, all based on the knowledge and experience we have from doing this sort of thing every day. Often the real problem and the solution reveal themselves as a result of the discussion. David Freeman has done the same thing for me with respect to business development and networking. I call him because this is what he does every day. Every discussion seems to start off the same way, then David asks the same questions, and before I know it what was a jumbled mass of real or perceived opportunities have materialized into a short list of tangible objectives and action items. David is like a personal trainer for business development.”

  • Travis Larson, Legal Industry/Business Advisor, ALA Greater Chicago Chapter

    “Based on the evaluations collected, you scored 3.8 out of 4; a great response to your presentation to our Chapter in July 2013. Comments from the evaluations are below:
    • David Freeman was very informative, I very much enjoyed his presentation.
    • Engaging.
    • Great strategies!
    • Lot of material in short time. Well done.
    • Good bullet points.
    • Entertaining, informative and kept it moving.
    • Ideas you can implement easily.
    • Excellent.
    • Well paced. Well done!
    • Would love to have him back on a drilled-down topic.
    • Chockfull of great info. Love it!”

  • Dave Poston, Esq., Poston Communications LLC, LMASE Atlanta City Group Coordinator

    “We recently had an excellent presentation from David Freeman.  With a group that included many senior marketing directors, David got rave reviews from everyone for his calm style, insight and experience with law firms, and tangible and specific ideas that could be implemented immediately.”

  • Stephanie L. Franklin-Suber, Esq. Co-Chair, ABA Minority Counsel Program

    “Thank you so very much for serving as a Facilitator of our Interactive Workshop on Business Development on Thursday, October 3, 2003.

    Your efforts, your time, and your commitment contributed greatly to the huge success of our 2003 Fall Meeting, October 2-3, 2003 in Chicago, Illinois. Your presentation and remarks during the panel discussion were insightful, constructive and helpful. Thanks to you, we have received nothing but praise about the workshop! Please accept this informal expression of our deep gratitude and appreciation. We could not have had a successful Fall Meeting without you! Your contribution was invaluable.”

Everyone Must Lead

Things To Do

  • Thinking as if you are solely responsible for the success of the firm, make a list of what must be done to help the firm thrive
  • Pick 1-2 areas where you have the greatest passion and could make the greatest impact
  • Find groups that are engaged in these areas, form them if none exist, or take action on your own
  • Work with the group (or yourself) to develop a personal action plan with timetables

Break Unproductive Patterns

Things To Do

  • List your current methods of conducting business development and delivering client service
  • Honestly assess which work for you and which don’t (you may need feedback from others)
  • Repair or discontinue 1 – 2 unproductive patterns of behavior Put more energy into your 1 – 2 best practices

Death to the Elevator Speech

Things To Do

    • Reframe your thinking – the goal is to initiate a new relationship by engaging in a memorable conversation, not give a speech about how great you are
    • Sample format: Introduce yourself, name your firm, identify the type of people you help, and describe the benefits you provide to clients (if it’s intriguing that helps)
        • “Hi, I’m Fred Smith, I work with the law firm of ABC, and I help wealthy families keep as much of their money away from the government as possible”
    • If they respond with something like “Oh really, tell me more”, have at it
    • No matter how they respond, quickly engage them in conversation by asking questions
    • If your questions identify areas where you can help (legal or not), get permission to follow up with them to offer assistance


Things To Do

    • Identify a particularly challenging or slow moving initiative you’d like to complete.
    • Find people who would be equally interested in completing the initiative and discuss how you could help each other get it done.
    • Break the task into steps, with personal accountability and deadlines for completion.
    • Get help from the firm if needed – you are more likely to get support when more than one person demonstrates their commitment.

Business Development Measures

Things To Do

    • Articulate your goals and choose one or two appropriate “progress” measures
    • Sample progress measures might include:
        • Contacts made with high priority targets
        • In-person meetings
        • Meals with clients/prospects/referral sources
        • On-site visits
        • On-site presentations
        • Size of key networks
        • Referrals given and received
        • New relationships built on both sides
        • Communication tools – type and frequency
        • Client feedback received
        • Time invested in business development

Provide Exceptional Internal Service

Things To Do

    • Identify key partners/associates/professionals in your firm who are important “clients” of yours.
    • Think of ways you can exceed their expectations (fast turnaround, taking personal ownership of their issues, going the extra mile for their clients, etc.)
    • Ask for feedback on what they like about working with you, and also learn if there is anything they would like done differently.

Fourth Quarter Push

Things To Do

    • Review your plan and see what needs to be completed
    • Pick one or two key initiatives
    • Break the initiatives down into actions steps with deadlines for each step
    • Have someone hold you accountable for each step

Enhancing Key Relationships

Questions You Must Ask Yourself

    • How many targeted people do I know?
    • In how many different categories (e.g. referral sources, GC’s, existing clients, potential clients, former clients, opposing counsel, lawyers in my firm who can refer work to me, etc.)?
    • How many times do I contact them?
    • In how many different ways?
    • How can I improve the quality of my key relationships?

Find The Silver Linings

Things To Do

    • Think carefully about the opportunities that exist in this market
    • If you have none, learn about opportunities from other practice areas in your firm
    • Develop 3 – 4 Silver Lining questions (“I’m wondering what your company is doing to take advantage of … “)
    • Make a list of your best clients and contacts and engage them in conversation about these opportunities

Internal Partnering

Things To Do

    • Identify a practice area that is complementary to yours
    • Identify at least one lawyer in that group who would be good to work with
    • Schedule time with that lawyer to discuss how you could work together for mutual benefit
    • Build very specific action plans
    • Agree to deadlines and schedule follow-up meetings to check on progress

Show The Love

Things To Do

    • Identify your most important contacts, especially those who are in need during this slowdown
    • Consider ways you can help these people
    • Make contact, ask probing questions, learn their needs, and offer any possible assistance
    • Make sure to act on what you promise
    • Calendar a follow-up call to learn how your help played out

Client Advocate

Things To Do

    • Put yourself in the shoes of your most important clients and try to see their needs from their perspective (increase efficiency; enhance communication and feedback; reduce recurring risks; manage/decrease costs; support growth areas of their business, etc.).
    • Develop a list of questions to ask that will uncover those needs to learn how you can help them achieve their goals.
    • Determine what services, value, and/or contacts you can provide to serve those needs.
    • Schedule a meeting to present your first draft of suggestions and co-develop mutually beneficial solutions.

Build Your New Year’s Plan

Things To Do

    • Sign up with a newsfeed service to get automatic notification of information on your top targets.
    • Offer to participate in any of their important planning meetings.
    • Meet more people in their workplace.
    • Introduce them to your contacts for their mutual benefit.

Invest In Relationships

Things To Do

    • Identify an initiative you’d like to accomplish/finish
    • Find another person you would like to work with: a lawyer in your group or complementary group; your assistant; a marketing professional; referral source
    • Schedule one to two meetings to get from thought to plan
    • Schedule follow-up meetings to bring the idea to closure

Don’t Fly Solo

Things To Do

    • Whether you’re slammed with billable hours or searching for them, step back and evaluate how you’re doing on a personal level (how has this economy impacted you, your relationships, your health, your personal interests, etc.).
    • If you’re feeling drained, determine way to recharge your batteries.
    • There are many people you know who also need a boost, check in with them and do something together in your mutual areas of interest.

Refresh And Revitalize

Things To Do

    • Take a comprehensive look at your contact list and prioritize your relationships
    • Develop a fresh context for reaching out to your “A” list
    • Learn what is important to them and find out how you can help
    • Schedule follow-up calls to stay top-of-mind and to continue to be of service

Refine Your Focus

Things To Do

    • Identify personal goals
    • Develop the strategies needed to achieve those goals
    • Specifically identify your best client development opportunities
    • Drill down to definite actions and commit to a specific time
    • Develop a method for holding yourself accountable to your commitments

Recover. Refocus. Reunite.

Things To Do

    • Recover
        • Take a good, hard look at what didn’t work for you last year, and resolve not to repeat the same activities that were unsuccessful
    • Refocus
        • Develop one or two strategies for reengaging with people who can send work or refer work to you
    • Reunite
        • Connect with as many clients, potential clients, referral sources and colleagues as you can handle

Grow Your Network

Things To Do

    • Identify your favorite areas of practice
    • Identify the companies and people who refer work or hire counsel in those areas
    • Get specific contact information (name, position, phone, email) for key decision- makers
    • Develop a context for reaching out to build or deepen relationships by demonstrating value and expertise:
        • Start with people you know
        • Get introductions to people they know
        • Contexts could include research you can share, documents you can review, presentations you can give, roundtables or programs you can invite them to, groups you want to form, visit on site, etc.
    • Develop a long-term plan for making ongoing contact. Studies suggest 80% of buying occurs between the 5th and 12th contact.

Stay Visible

Things To Do

    • Identify which categories of people you want to be in front of
    • Determine what they read, where they congregate, and which online communities they belong to
    • Develop a message and information that is interesting and timely
    • For online communities, start or join the conversation
    • Go to events, conferences, and seminars
    • Offer a free or discounted service to clients to remind them of your value

Maximize The Client Experience

Things To Do

    • Learn as much as you can about your client’s business
    • Ask how your client likes to communicate and be highly responsive
    • Find ways to deliver value above and beyond the delivery of a good legal result
    • Take time to think proactively about your client’s needs
    • Understand and manage client expectations
    • Ask for and act on feedback you receive

Making And Granting Wishes

Things To Do

    • Granting Wishes
        • Identify two or three people who could benefit from your help.
        • Proactively offer your assistance.
        • Help them build a step-by-step plan for achieving their goals.
    • Receiving Wishes
        • Identify two or three goals that if achieved could significantly improve your practice.
        • Identify people who could be instrumental in helping you achieve your goals.
        • Let those people know about your “wish” for the new year, and ask if they can help you achieve your goals.

Love Your Laterals

Things To Do

    • For Laterals
        • Develop a personal integration plan
        • Identify and build relationships with key lawyers and leaders
        • Work with marketing department to identify current and new opportunities
        • Give opportunities to others to meet your clients and contacts
        • Deliver “wow” levels of service to other lawyers in the firm
    • Legacy Partners
        • Reach out to new laterals and engage in social activities
        • Find opportunities to introduce laterals to your clients and contacts
        • Create opportunities to co-market with new laterals
    • Firm Leadership
        • Assign a mentor
        • Have leaders of complementary practice groups and offices find opportunities
        • Provide internal leadership positions to increase visibility
        • Provide budget to visit other firm offices

Culture Of Business Development

Things To Do

    • For Associates
        • Find a business development mentor
        • Offer to help partners do some of the leg work – research and write first drafts of articles, start a blog, track relevant social media, etc.
        • Form an associates marketing committee
        • Meet associates in other practice groups, on other floors, in other offices
    • For Partners and Counsel
        • Find business development opportunities for other lawyers in the firm and make introductions
        • Find a “buddy” and co-market together
        • Ask lawyers in complementary practice groups how you might work together to attract more work to the firm
        • Take associates with you to functions and client development meetings

Retreat To Advance

Things To Do

    • For Individual Lawyers
        • Develop a plan for maximizing the final quarter of the year
        • Identify how work has come in over the past two years and pinpoint trends
        • Plan to do more of what has worked, and change approaches that have not delivered results
        • Ask for help in devising your personal plan:
            • Other rainmakers or mentors in your firm, other firms, or in other professions
            • Internal or external marketing and business development experts
        • Choose at least one initiative that could further your career, and carve out the time and resources to get it done
        • Make sure your plan drills down to specific tactics and timelines
        • Develop an approach that forces you to implement the steps you need to take
    • For Group and Firm Leaders
        • Develop a strong 4th quarter push
        • Schedule a planning session to:
            • Reflect on the lessons learned from the last few years
            •  Develop specific action plans for moving intelligently into the future
        • Incorporate client feedback and insights into your planning process
        • Tackle one or two issues that have blocked your group/firm from achieving the next level of performance
        • Utilize a collaborative planning process to incorporate input from many parts of the firm and to facilitate initial buy-in
        • Develop specific tactical plans, complete with action steps, accountability and timelines
        • Incorporate a process for tracking the implementation of your strategy, and tie performance to compensation

Solicit Client Feedback

Things To Do

    • Schedule feedback calls, or better yet, meetings, with your best clients
    • Create a summary of the work you have done for them, and conduct research on them to learn any newsworthy information worth discussing
    • Prepare open-ended, probing questions (collect effective questions from other lawyers and your marketing department)
        • Solicit feedback on your firm’s performance
        • Learn about their legal needs for the coming year
    • Act on any suggested changes quickly and visibly


    • How many feedback appointments can you schedule between now and the end of the year?
    • Give yourself one point for conducting the meeting
    •  Extra credit:
        • One extra point if the meeting is in person
        • One extra point if the in-person meeting is conducted in their offices
        • One extra point if you meet new decision-makers who could provide new work
        • Two extra points if you uncover new opportunities

Everyone Leads

Things To Do

    • Identify an important area of your life that you would like to change (in yourself, with clients, in the firm, the community, or your family)
    • Map out a project management plan that details the steps needed to achieve that change
    • Identify the support you will need to achieve the change (time, resources, money, education, etc.)
    • Obtain buy-in from others who will be key players in executing your plan
    • Delegate when appropriate, establish deadlines, and track ongoing progress
    • Regularly communicate progress and successes
    • Generously share praise with the team, and provide rewards and recognition for achievement

Maximize Teams

Things To Do

    • Identify specific clients, prospects or initiatives.
    • Invite core members to join the team, and get their commitments to work together.
    • Convene an initial meeting to establish goals, clarify roles and responsibilities for leaders and team members, agree to standards of team conduct, develop measures of progress and success, and set a schedule for ongoing meetings.
    • Use technology to track activity. Adjust compensation to reward team successes.

Collaborate With Your Best Clients

Things To Do

    • Choose one high priority client.
    • Meet with other members of your firm to brainstorm ways to deliver higher levels of service.
    • Reach out to the client, present your ideas, get their feedback on their most important needs and schedule a meeting with key people on both sides.
    • Conduct the meeting and facilitate a discussion of their most important needs, including goals, suggested actions steps, roles, reporting, tracking and measuring progress.
    • Develop an internal tracking and accountability process that guarantees you/the firm will act on any new initiatives.
    • Schedule check-in meetings with your client contact to evaluate progress and make any necessary adjustments.


Things To Do

    • Target practice groups and individual lawyers who can be good sources of referral business for you
    • Interview key lawyers to learn what topics would serve their clients
    • Prepare a “cheat sheet” of questions they can ask their clients on your behalf
    • Conduct a training session for a group, or have an educational meeting with an individual lawyer


    • How many educational sessions can you schedule this month?
        • Give yourself one point for conducting the session
    • Extra Credit:
        • One extra point if hand out a “cheat sheet”
        • One extra point if you ask the group/individual lawyer for names of clients that might need your help
        • Two extra points if you get another lawyer to arrange a meeting with, or a presentation to, one of their clients

Building Your Referral Network

Things To Do

    • Identify existing referral sources
    • Identify potential referral sources
    • Calendar regular contacts with your referral sources
    • Identify occasions to give referrals, leads, and other business development opportunities to your referral network
    • Devise other contexts for reaching out to, educating, and providing value to this network

Making Personal Accountability a Habit

Things To Do

    • Hire yourself on a daily, weekly, or biweekly basis to engage in client development activities
    • Create an accountability buddy system (choose someone from your office, practice group, marketing department, friend, etc.)
    • Put client development activities on the same calendar used for substantive deadlines
    • Use your travel time for phone calls, thinking about strategies, etc.
    • Use your personal assistant to help you remember commitments and track progress

Building Relationships Through Speaking

Things To Do

    • Before: Call targeted prospects to get ideas, feedback, and/or invite to speak on a panel
    • During: Offer to provide additional information and collect contact information; stay around to answer questions; offer to follow-up to provide a more detailed response to their questions
    • After: Call targeted attendees to get feedback, offer in-house presentations, etc.

Visit Your Clients

Things To Do

    • Identify your top clients
    • Conduct research to learn about needs, issues, and trends, and make sure to look for cross-selling opportunities
    • Identify new people in their organization you’d like to meet (for you and other practice groups)
    • Come up with a reason to offer to visit them on site (haven’t been there for a while/ever; would like to meet to review last year’s work and learn what you have planned for this year; offer an on-site presentation; tour the plant; etc.)
    • Set a date