The so-called “rainmaker” has long been the poster child for what law firm business development should look like. The attorney who can talk new business in the door by schmoozing on the golf course or over drinks at a fancy restaurant has taken on mythical status in some circles.
But lawyers shouldn’t try to change who they are to meet that standard, says attorney Press Millen, the long-time leader of Womble Carlyle’s Client Development efforts. Instead, Millen said lawyers can be revenue generators for their firm by focusing their efforts on outstanding client service and being a truly trusted client advisor.
“The so-called rainmaker of the old days…has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaurs," Millen tells Law360.
In today’s legal marketplace, the so-called “minders”—those who take good care of existing clients—are as valuable to their firms as rainmakers. Millen said one of the most valuable things an attorney can do to build that level of trust is to closely monitor that client’s industry to help the client understand changes and potential pain points.
"In my experience, that means a relentless focus on the client and its issues within the context of the industry in which the client operates,” Millen tells Law360. “That's far more likely to happen in a conference room or courtroom than in a barroom.”
Other industry watchers say that attorneys can contribute to their firms’ bottom lines by helping recruit outstanding lateral attorneys, as well as by taking on firm leadership roles.