Rainmaking for Associates – winning clients for your law office

Wikipedia defines rainmaking as (in business)bringing in new business and winning new accounts almost by magic, since it is often not readily apparent how this new business activity is caused. Investopedia further defines it as bringing clients, money, or respect to one’s organization solely by one’s associationEssentially, a rainmaker “makes it rain” in the colloquial sense.
As a young Associate in a Nigerian law firm, your primary role is to assist your team with servicing the legal and regulatory needs of the client. Nevertheless, you can stand out even as an Associate by going a step further and winning briefs or transactions for your firm. 

Proprietors of law firms are first, businessmen and businesswomen, so they will appreciate your efforts, no matter how little, in directly impacting the bottom line of the organization. This is of course, where winning briefs and transactions for your law office is not already a job requirement

Below are some tips to help you stand out as a young lawyer by making money for your firm.

Be visible
It’s simple really – no one can give work to a firm or person they have never heard of. Get more active; not just in the legal community, but in various industries and sectors of the economy.

If you are a technology lawyer for instance, your absence from events such as TechPlus, Social Media Week, etc. is inexcusable. Develop a presence both online and offline.

Also pay attention to your personal branding and professional image (i.e. how you, or your firm, are perceived by the professional community)and leveragewhat you do best.

Become a thought leader
Every lawyer should write. It comes with the territory, or it should. Cultivate the habit of periodically publishing well-researched and well-written articles in your area(s)of expertiseWhen starting out, you could consider co-authoring with someone more senior.

Use sites like LinkedIn or even your company website with the permission of the appropriate authorities, of course.

In this regard, it is helpful to focus on one or two practice areas or sectors and provide content that is engaging, relevant and useful to your target audience. If you do this consistently, you remain at the back of the minds of the decision-makers in various industries. That way, you or your firm will be one of the first people they contact when they need assistance along those lines.

Follow up with previous clients
It is often said that lawyers are transactional in nature. This means we finish a brief or transaction and move on to the next one, often without taking any time to look back. As a result, lawyers often work for a client on a particular piece of work while another lawyer swoops in and completes the task on another front.

For instance, assume you have just assisted a client with the incorporation of a company. There is no reason that another firm should come in to assist that client in registering trademarks in the name of that company. This is of course, provided that you (or your firm) havethe capacity to provide the service.
So, think beyond what your firm may be doing for a client presently, and anticipate your client’s future needs.

Make your existing clients happy
It follows from the above that when winning more business for your law officeyou should start with the low-hanging fruit; your existing clients

Learn to cross-sell. This means that if you currently offer dispute resolution services in respect of a company’s dispute; indicate your availability to assist with other disputes, or even with their taxation, employee or company secretarial matters.

Pay attention to the clients you already work with, and provide high-quality service. This means treating their work with confidentiality, delivering within agreed timelines, and providing regular updates on the matter. If you do this well, not only will you get more work from these clients, but you will also get referrals. 

Don’t be afraid to give freebies
It is helpful to learn even as an Associate to provide value-added services to your clientSometimes, people want a sample of what they will be getting before they commit. You do not need to dole out your legal services for free. But remember that when clients see you as someone they can call to ask one or two preliminary questions on a matter, if you provide satisfactory responses, you are more likely to get the brief than an external lawyer.

So when a potential client calls to ask some harmless initial questions, don’t be afraid to help. You can tell them enough for them to have confidence in you, but still need to come back to properly engage you.

Also, consider sending potential and existing clients regular updates on their industry and how any new regulation could impact their business. You need to demonstrate that you know your onions and understand your client’s business.

In summary, law is a business, and the people that flourish in the legal profession are not just those well versed in the law, but those who get a good grip on business considerations before it is too late. Whether the plan is to make partner or set up your own firm, you will need to learn how to win business, so start now!

Yimika Adesola is a corporate lawyer and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial arm of Aluko & Oyebode.

She runs a career center, Legally Engaged (available at www.legallyengaged.com.ng), via which she offers direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers, and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.