Leadership Tip

  • 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 BADfortheBRAND.com

    “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.”

Cross-Selling: Developing Opportunities For Your Group

Things To Do

  • Have meetings with complementary practice group leaders to discuss how to enhance cross-selling
  • Identify cross-selling opportunities you can give to other practice groups
  • Arrange meetings between the complementary groups
  • Make and get commitments to act on opportunities identified
  • Develop a tracking process to keep commitments alive


  • How many cross-group planning sessions can you schedule this month?
    • Give yourself one point for conducting the session
  • Extra credit:
    • One extra point if you present opportunities to other groups
    • One extra point if receive commitments from lawyers to make cross-introductions
    • Two extra points if meetings actually occur
    • One extra point if successes are communicated throughout the firm

Communicate Something Important

Things To Do

  • Find a topic that needs to be constantly reiterated (business development aspects of compensation and cross-selling are usually good ones)
  • Bring it to the attention of the group and have an interactive discussion, process, or contest to burn it in
  • Communicate and reward behaviors in alignment with the topic
  • Develop action steps, accountability, and timelines where appropriate

Raising and Focusing Group Energy

Things To Do

  • Get your group to refocus on personal and group goals
  • Pick one or two high priority personal and group initiatives to complete
  • Develop action steps, accountability, and timelines
  • Employ a tracking and reminder system

Develop a Coaching Culture

Things To Do

    • Whenever possible, walk the talk by personally coaching more people in your group
    • Have partners provide more frequent, real-time coaching to associates
    • Have senior associates provide coaching to junior associates
    • Partners need coaching too – encourage a peer-based, buddy system
    • Reverse coaching – have associates mentor senior partners around things like technology

Reforming the Underperformer

Things To Do

    • Arrange a one-on-one meeting with the person
    • Provide evidence of underperformance
    • Develop an understanding of their personal goals and aspirations
    • Show how their current performance will impede achievement of their goals
    • Ask the person to provide you with a performance improvement plan
    • Develop a follow-up/accountability plan with measurable performance milestones
    • Schedule the next meeting within weeks of the first meeting

Build Your Group’s Alumni Network

Things To Do

    • Make a list of lawyers who have left the firm over the last 5-10 years
    • Develop ways to offer them value
    • Create a method for regularly reaching out to them
    • Assign an “alumni buddy” who is responsible for ongoing contact
    • Help lawyers who want to leave find new jobs that suit them
    • Conduct exit interviews with departing lawyers
    • Remember to treat your young associates well – they are potential alumni who someday may have the power to send work to, or steer work away from, the firm

Do Something New

Things To Do

    • Identify one major new or unfinished initiative that could impact the fortunes of the group
    • Get consensus on the importance of completing it
    • Establish a definite deadline for completion
    • Drill down to action steps, timelines, and responsibilities for completion
    • Establish rewards and recognition for timely completion

Tout the Successes of Your Group

Things To Do

    • Collect successes from members of your group
    • Develop them into compelling stories
    • Tell these stories to the right internal and external audiences
    • Ask lawyers in complementary groups to tell your stories to their clients and get them to arrange meetings with your lawyers

Leader as Watcher

Things To Do

    • Identify 1 – 2 initiatives that need to be completed
    • Create a sense of urgency around the need for timely completion
    • Make sure at least one person is held responsible for the completion of the task
    • Set milestones for progress with due dates for each step
    • Have a process in place to track progress
    • Send reminders when people are behind
    • Check in at group meetings and one-on-one and get new timetables from those who are behind or give the job to others if necessary
    • Communicate and praise early progress and successes
    • If appropriate and possible (for important initiatives), tie a portion of their compensation to completion

Shift from Present to Future

Things To Do

    • Identify one unfinished project or goal for your group
    • Break the process down into manageable steps
    • Remind the group of its importance, develop buy-in, and establish a sense of urgency
    • Provide constant reminders, establish measures of progress, and celebrate successes

Coaching Style of Leadership

Things To Do

    • Identify one or more people who need to raise their performance.
    • Prepare open-ended questions.
    • Ask questions that will uncover their values and goals:
        • “What is important to you?”
        • “What are your goals?”
        • “What do you need to do to keep developing as a professional?”
    • Get them to define the steps toward their goals:
        • “If you were to break your goals into steps, what would they be?”
    • Measurable progress:
        • “How can you measure progress toward achieving your goals?”
    • Have them establish a time frame and deadlines for each step.
    • Check in regularly to provide guidance, feedback and accountability.
    • Provide recognition and praise for progress and success.

Running Great Meetings

Things To Do

    • Get feedback from key group members regarding what they want from group meetings
    • Get input on developing agendas
    • Remind people to come prepared (when applicable)
    • Make the tone upbeat, developmental, and enjoyable
    • Gain group agreement on meeting standards and protocols (side conversations, smart phone usage, decision-making processes, brainstorming rules, etc.)
    • Start and end on time
    • Facilitate wide inclusion via small group and large group discussions
    • Get the group to make decisions!
    • End with commitments, names, actions steps and timelines
    • Start the next meeting with a report out on the status of action steps

Getting Teams Started

Things To Do

    • Identify key objectives to be achieved that require cooperation between two or more people.
    • Get the team to meet to discuss how to achieve the objectives.
    • Have the team set an agenda and agree to action steps with timelines and commitments.
    • Ask the team to estimate how many meetings are required to accomplish the objective.
        • Get specific dates on their calendars.
    • Hold the team to their commitments, track and communicate progress, and provide proper incentives.

Focus on Generating Revenue

Things To Do

    • Revise individual business development plans
    • Find top cross-selling opportunities to give and receive
    • Ask current clients if they have additional work
    • Develop more and better referral sources
    • Establish short term measures of progress

Role Clarity

Things To Do

    • Get your group clear on its goals (which may have significantly changed based on current conditions).
        • You may need a series of meetings to craft new plans and refocus the group’s attention in new directions.
    • Develop strategies and actions steps that will get you to your goals.
    • Have people “volunteer” to drive completion of actions steps by a date certain.
        • Make sure your volunteers are clear on what is expected and by when.
    • Develop a tracking process that measures progress.
    • Check-in regularly with major initiative owners to keep them on task.

Utilize the Visionary Style

Things To Do

    • Develop clarity around a desired future for your group
    • Especially for groups facing challenges in this current market, engage them in discussions that focus on that (or another) desired future
    • Once the group has developed agreement on a desired future, have them map out the major steps needed to get there
    • Keep the desired future and ongoing accomplishments top-of-mind in meetings and correspondence
    • Recognize and reward behaviors that support implementation of the steps

Economic Stimulus Tools

Things To Do

    • Look at three major areas in the firm and determine which tools you should use to stimulate business development activity. Examples are included under each category:
    • Revenue-Focused Leadership Activities:
        • Business development planning retreats, cross-selling sessions, leadership training, client-service training
    • Turning Lawyers into Rainmakers:
        • Personal business development plans, client development training and/or coaching, personal cross-selling, accountability systems
    • Maximizing Laterals:
        • Develop personal integration plans, maximize cross-selling opportunities, build internal relationships with key complementary groups and individual lawyers

Anticipate Client Needs

Things To Do

    • Convene a meeting of your group to brainstorm different ways to reduce client’s legal risks
    • Choose one or two approaches that would be applicable to a wide audience of targeted clients, prospective clients, and referral sources
    • Create a task force to build the protocols and presentation materials
    • Develop your target list of people to approach
    • Utilize as an opportunity to build new relationships as well as solidify existing ones (great way to get an internal contact to cross-sell you to someone else in their organization)

Cross-Selling and Compensation

Things To Do

    • Senior leadership must be in agreement on how cross-selling is compensated.
    • Communicate this policy clearly and frequently, especially to new laterals and new partners. If your associates are not directly compensated for cross-selling, they need to understand what’s in it for them.
    • Show examples where desired cross-selling behavior has been rewarded.
    • When cross-selling behaviors are demonstrated during the year, provide recognition and communicate these activities to the firm.

Recharge The Batteries

Things To Do

    • Have partners develop 30 and 60 day tactical action plans.
    • Get them back to basics, focused on successful, but neglected tactics.
    • For those with extra time, set high goals, e.g., 10 meetings with people you haven’t spoken with in the last year.
    • Develop stretch measures and track progress closely.
    • Provide coaching where needed.

Three Forms of Leadership

Questions to ask yourself

    • Personal Leadership: What am I doing to guide myself in the development of my career?
    • Internal Leadership: How am I contributing to making my firm a better place to work?
    • External Leadership: What am I doing to provide exceptional levels of leadership and service to my clients?

Clarify and Solidify Your Leadership

Things To Do

    • Speak with former group leaders, leaders you report to, and leaders in complementary practice groups to learn the history of leadership in your group.
    • Develop a clear understanding of what these leaders expect from your group.
    • Develop a concise group plan, complete with an outline of goals and measures, along with the roles, responsibilities and authority needed to carry out the goals, and present these to the leaders you report to and complementary group leaders for input and buy-in.
    • Ask for the support of these leaders in carrying out your plan. Especially if changes are required, you’ll need senior and peer leadership covering your back.

Refine Your Group’s Focus

Choose one or two key areas for you group

    • Protect and grow your most important client relationships
    • Get greater visibility for a specific group or specialty practice
    • Introduce lawyers from other practice areas to your best clients
    • Enhance relationships with key referral sources
    • Improve teamwork, camaraderie, and communication between practice groups and offices

Build a Group Plan Now

Things To Do

    • Schedule the meeting
    • Identify one or two major goals and strategies for the coming year
    • Facilitate a frank discussion on group obstacles and opportunities
    • Drill down to specific action steps and get commitments for performance
    • Agree on methods for keeping group activity sustainable throughout the year

Recover. Refocus. Reunite

Things To Do

    • Recover:
        • Take a good, hard look at the activities that didn’t work for your group last year, and resolve not to support those activities in the coming year
    • Refocus:
        • Engage your group and have them develop one or two strategies for staying top of mind with people who can send or refer work to the group
    • Reunite:
        • Significantly increase the number of live meetings your lawyers have with clients, potential clients, referral sources and other lawyers in the firm

Visibility for Your Group

Things To Do

    • Focus your group on key segments of your market
    • Identify specific clients, prospective clients, referral sources and influencers
    • Develop a saturation plan – devise ways to be where your targets are
    • Get volunteers to implement discrete parts of the saturation plan
    • Track progress, reward completion of key steps, and recognize successes

Managing Lawyers to Grow Their Networks

Things To Do

    • Develop a master list of prospects and clients
    • Divide responsibility for approaching those contacts
    • Have the group develop contexts for approaching those contacts
    • For highest priority contacts, have the relationship lawyer commit to a plan to make contact six or more times over the next 12 months
    • Track activity and report on progress and successes

Retreat to Advance

Things To Do

    • 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 stepping up to 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

Everyone Leads

Things To Do

    • Identify something that is important that needs to change (in yourself, with clients, in the firm, the community, or your family)
    • Identify what a leader would need to achieve that improvement (time, resources, support of others, money, education, etc.)
    • Develop a plan for obtaining the buy-in and active support of others
    • Set deadlines and delegate where appropriate
    • Facilitate ongoing communication of progress and successes
    • Generously share praise with the team, and create 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 behaviors, 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.
    • Brainstorm ways to deliver higher levels service with other members of the firm who work on matters for that client.
    • Reach out to the client, suggest the meeting, present your ideas, get their feedback on highest priority issues and schedule a meeting with key people on both sides.
    • Conduct the meeting and facilitate a discussion of their highest priority issues, including goals, suggested actions steps, roles, reporting, tracking and measuring progress.
    • Develop an internal tracking and accountability process that guarantees that 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.