find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Strong relationships key to firm growth

Strong relationships key to firm growth

Young lawyers need to be involved in networking and managing client relationships from their first day in a law firm, according to a panel of business development experts at this year’s Australasian Practice Management Association (ALPMA) Summit.

“Get the younger lawyers meeting with clients and doing the networking as soon as possible; they don’t teach networking and client relationship management (CRM) at law school,” said Richard Scott, the business development (BD) manager at Russell Kennedy Solicitors.

“They need to know what’s expected of them as soon as they arrive at the firm.”

Scott was sitting on a panel that was asked to address the question: If you don’t have rainmakers, how do you grow your firm?, at the Summit last Friday (18 October); also sitting on that panel, which was facilitated by Robert Milliner (pictured below), the current B20 Sherpa for Australia and a senior advisor at UBS, were Clementine Scahill, the BD director at Hunt & Hunt Lawyers, and Suzanne Delbridge-Bailey, the business principal at Forsythes Accounting. 

Scahill said she believed rainmakers were “almost a myth”, while Scott added: “You don’t need a team of rainmakers to grow your firm; you need the majority of lawyers to have some sales and client relationship skills.

“Most lawyers have some element of sales skill hibernating somewhere.”

Scott claimed BD should be talked about and promoted by senior management in the firm and that the firm’s BD person should be meeting with graduate lawyers on their first day, as well as meeting with the managing partner on a regular basis.

“[It’s a] perception thing ... if the BD manager is meeting with the managing partner they must be important.”

Scott also emphasised that it is important for the achievements of junior lawyers in the BD space to be recognised.

“If a junior lawyer introduces a partner to a potential client that needs to be celebrated,” he said.

Referring back

Scahill said that if a firm wants to attract clients without ‘rainmakers’ then they need to have a logical plan.

“Have a clear outline of what your desired client base looks like,” she said, adding that firms need to ensure their clients’ price point aligns with theirs.

Scahill also spruiked the importance of maintaining a good relationship with firm alumni, saying that, for many large firms, up to 80 per cent of referrals can come from alumni, “which goes back to the culture [of the firm],” she added.

Delbridge-Bailey also talked up the importance of referrals, saying that other BD activities, such as leveraging contacts and appearing at conferences to boost your profile, or getting involved with professional bodies, are no use if your firm is not providing “appropriate, timely, accurate and cost-effective service”.

“The easiest source of additional work is your existing client base,” said Delbridge-Bailey. “Do what you do really well and you will get referrals.”

Social problems

One of the questions from the audience at the discussion was about young lawyers that are using social media as a marketing tool; both Scott and Milliner said this is something that firms should encourage rather than crack down on, provided the firm has a clear social media policy in place.

“Social media is another communication channel,” said Scott.”If that’s the way they find easiest to develop contacts in the industry, that’s fantastic.

“I would be getting them in the boardroom to show the other [senior] lawyers what they’re doing ... to show them there is another way to communicate with people.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Strong relationships key to firm growth
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 13 2017
Young humanitarian lawyer California-bound
A young Australian lawyer will be travelling to the US next year for a prestigious nine-month study ...
Jackie Rhodes
Dec 12 2017
Report sheds light on LGBTQI inclusion in law firms
A recent report has revealed the varying perceptions on LGBTQI diversity and inclusion in the Austra...
Women in business
Dec 12 2017
Annabel Crabb headlines Women in Business Forum
Political journalist Annabel Crabb has appeared at the Coleman Greig Lawyers Women in Business Forum...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...