The days of BigLaw associates patiently waiting for institutional clients to be dropped in their laps are largely past and, as U.S. law firms struggle with flat demand, young attorneys are increasingly expected to step up their business development game.
In addition to being the best of the best at understanding and practicing law, today’s BigLaw associates must now too be well-versed in the art of attracting new clients and business, a role bestowed on them as law firms struggle to compete in a legal market plagued by increased competition and lagging demand.
The task of developing business is not something that happens overnight, according to Jay Harrington, a law firm consultant and author of the book “How to Start Fast As a Law Firm Associate.”
“There are no tips, tricks or tools that can change the fact that business development was, is, and always will be a long-term game that involves developing a reputation for excellence and cultivating relationships … it’s incumbent upon associates to start laying the foundation for strong business development from day one,” Harrington said.
Michelle Fivel, a partner at Major, Lindsey & Africa, added that associates need to make business development a priority in order to become good at it.
“Be conscious of the need to do business development and start early,” Fivel said. “Take a step back and think about the law as a business — which goes beyond just being a good lawyer. Business development is all about relationships and getting your name out there.”