What was your motivation behind putting together this book?
Through the many conversations I have with law firms all around the world, it is clear that there is a clear focus on developing good business development skills within lawyers and law firms. That led me to conclude there was a need for a book – particularly an IBA book – to provide a practical guide for lawyers on both the skills and tools needed to implement good business development. In embarking on the project I was very committed to ensuring I drew on the target of business development,namely the client. How do our clients perceive business development by lawyers and law firms is critical in determining how to approach business development. How does the client think about business development from the receiving end; what do they like or dislike, what is a waste of time, what is the most effective form of business development are “mission critical.
How do you think the context has changed for law firms when thinking about business development?
Simply, that they are now thinking about business development where previously they didn’t! Also in today’s legal market, good business development is central to differentiation and success – and therefore strategy - for both individual lawyers and law firms and this is becoming more and more apparent.
What would be your top takeaways for law firms approaching their business development?
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach to business development. It has to be authentic and carefully considered as a central part of the firms overall strategy. It became very clear to me whilst editing this book that building, managing and leveraging relationships based on trust and respect is fundamental to retaining and developing business. Engaging with your clients, understanding them and focusing on their needs should be your top priority.
Were there any recurring themes/key tips for law firms from the interviews you conducted with GCs.
Based on these interviews it is very clear that business development has to be seen in the context of developing a trusted relationship. Once you have that trusted relationship you can do lots of really effective business development but without it, it is really hard. A close second in terms of takeaways from these interviews is the need for good business development to be based on a real understanding of the business of the company from which you want to develop business. There is some basic homework that all of us should do before we start a conversation with a company whether it is an existing client or, but more particularly, when it is a new relationship we are trying to build.
Have you changed any of your ideas in relation to business development at the end of this process now the book has published?
Definitely, I am being even more focused on what clients want. I think all law firms and lawyers should talk regularly to their clients to determine whether their business development activities are effective. If they do not they could well be wasting their time and could actually be damaging the relationship that they have by poor business development or un-thought through and unnecessary contact.
Click here for further details and a free sample chapter of our new title Business Development: A Practical Handbook for Lawyers.