AMLAW Firm, West Coast, Full Service Firm
Scope of Services: We coached 83 of the firm’s lawyers over 5 years. We also consulted with several of their practice groups. A new class of 20-24 lawyers continues to be coached each year.
Project Selected for Analysis: Class two of the business development coaching program.
Theme: Grow revenue and develop the “board presence” of the lawyers.
ROI on Program Investment: 2000%
This class had 26 partners who we coached one-on-one for nine months. They measured the program results against their prior year’s partner performances and showed:
- An average increase of over 55% in originating income per partner — almost three times greater than the partners who received no coaching.
- An overall dollar increase for the group exceeding $5,000,000.
- A 20-to-1 return on the firm’s investment.
This firm has been highly successful judged by the ordinary and usual AMLAW ranking criteria. However, there was a significant discrepancy between originations of the firm’s top rainmakers versus other partners — several senior partners brought in a disproportionate share of the firm’s revenue. The executive committee identified the need to cultivate the next level of business developers to ensure sustained revenue growth and future firm success.
Many of the firm’s senior partners also shared a concern that certain otherwise promising young partners lacked the “corporate board presence” and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that the firm’s top clients had come to expect. They were not confident that these younger attorneys could develop the leadership qualities requisite for becoming successful relationship partners — partners whom clients would like, respect, and trust.
We implemented a business development coaching program that included the following elements: a personality and behavioral assessment, and nine months of one-on-one coaching, twice a month for 1.5 hours per session.
The objectives of the assignment were to help these attorneys develop a set of business development and communication skills that they would carry with them throughout their careers. Secondary objectives included enhancing each attorney’s Emotional Intelligence and cultivating the corporate board presence of selected individuals.
In addition, we provided ad hoc coaching on issues that arose outside the normal scope of business development. Clearing these obstacles has a significant impact on an attorney’s ability to perform more effectively in all aspects of the profession, including business development.
Our coaching focused on developing three qualities shared by top business developers: having the right attitude, taking consistent action, and mastering several essential skill sets.
Factors That Enhanced Our Success
Two factors ensured the success of this assignment. The first was top management support —the Managing Partner, CMO and Executive Director fully supported the project. Second, each of the attorneys selected wanted to be coached; they had a desire to learn and improve.
The financial results speak for themselves:
- The average increase in originating income per partner was 55%, almost three times greater than the non-coached partners.
- The overall dollar increase for the group exceeded $5,000,000.
- The firm’s return on investment in the program was more than 20-to-1.
A key advantage of one-on-one coaching is that we can personalize our approach for each individual. As a result, the attorneys obtained additional benefits, including:
- Improved competency in managing and staffing cases.
- Greater ability to develop and lead high-performing case and client teams, which led to increased associate morale.
- Improved Emotional Intelligence, which led to an increased sense of personal fulfillment and better relations with client and colleagues.
- Enhanced skills for navigating high-end client relationships.
- More credible board presence.
- Overall improvement in communication skills and ability.
AMLAW Firm, Midwestern, Full Service Firm
Scope of Services: We coached 125 of the firm’s lawyers over five years, consulted with several of the firm’s practice groups, and led several practice group retreats. A new class of 24 lawyers continues to be coached each year.
Project Selected for Analysis: Business development coaching program.
Theme: Implement a firm-wide, standardized approach to business development.
ROI on Program Investment: 400% to 600% (the ROI varied from class-to-class)
The firm was looking for a way to increase the business development skills and originations of its lawyers. It wanted to standardize an approach that all the lawyers would learn and use.
We implemented a business development coaching program that included the following elements: a personality and behavioral assessment, one day of “immersion” training, nine months of one-on-one coaching and, at the mid-point of the program, a pitch training competition.
In keeping with this firm’s culture, they chose to do a more qualitative assessment of the value they received from the coaching program. These are the findings:
- The average ROI of each year’s program ranges from 400% to 800%.
- The firm’s overall pitch win rate increased.
- All the lawyers who applied themselves reported learning a set of skills that has significantly improved their business development competency.
- Comments we often heard are: “I have a much more organized approach to building my practice”; “I finally can use LinkedIn to find new prospects”; “My marketing efforts are much more consistent”; “I now have an approach to biz dev that fits my personality”; “I am way more effective during pitch meetings” and “I am more confident in asking for work.”
- The results from the end-of-the-program survey showed the vast majority of the lawyers felt the program was highly worthwhile.
60 Lawyer-Firm, West Coast, Full Service firm
Scope of Services: We coached 20 of 60 lawyers over four years, led comprehensive LinkedIn training, consulted with several practice groups, and instituted a firm-wide practice group-planning program. A new class of 6-8 lawyers continues to be coached each year.
Project Selected for Analysis: Business development coaching program.
Theme: Training the next generation of the firm’s rainmakers.
ROI on Program Investment: 268%
This firm, founded at the beginning of the 20th century, has strong ties to its community. Like many firms, relying on a select group of rainmakers to generate the majority of the firm’s revenue was no longer working. The firm needed to groom the next generation of rainmakers and ensure that all partners contributed to the firm’s revenue.
We implemented a business development coaching program that included the following elements: a personality and behavioral assessment, one day of “immersion” training, and nine months of one-on-one coaching.
- The ROI of this particular year’s program was 268%.
- All the lawyers reported a significant increase in their business development competency.
- Comments from participants included: “ The coaching process is like a gym membership: the more I use it, the more I get out it”; “The coaching process provided much needed accountability, which I have translated into self-accountability”; “I have a true practice focus and a brand”; I was able to build a brand in my niche in just 3 months”; and “This process helped me land several new matters.”
- When asked, all participants said they “got their money’s worth.”