When I coach lawyers on how to improve their business development and create a sales plan, an important part of our work together is to identify the attorneys they most admire.  This can be inside their firm or in another.  The idea is to look for those who are five to fifteen years farther alone in their career who are living the life they desire.

The next step is to look closely at what these lawyers do and have done to cultivate client relationships.  Success leaves clues, and while you cannot directly copy the actions of another person, you can seek patterns that are similar in their routines.

In some cases this reverse engineering must take place from a distance, as if you do not know the person well and they work for a competitor, you many not feel comfortable asking them about what they do to succeed (however, they might be open to lunch to share their ideas, as most people respond well to those who admire their career efforts). But if you do know the person, or they work in the same firm, you must spend time with them and ask them about their path.

From the outside we make a lot of assumptions as to why one person outperforms another, but when you can go directly to the sources, you will discover how they treat their business development efforts.

The key things to pay attention to are three areas:

  1. What steps have they intentionally taken to grow their practice?
  2. Where do their clients come from?
  3. Why do they believe they are more successful that others?

Once you know what they are doing to grow and above average book of business, you can integrate the parts that work for you. You have to understand who you are and make sure that the actions you will plan to take will match your personality. If you are not comfortable you will not take the actions.

Have you ever done this? Most lawyers I work with have never taken the time to really understand who they admire and why.  Fewer have then taken the steps to reverse engineer how that person reached the top.  Fewer still have spelled out a plan for actions to mirror those they admire.


Thom Singer is an advisor to law firms.  He also coaches individual attorneys who care about developing business and building a sustainable career.

To learn more about “Business Development Coaching for Lawyers” reach out by email or phone – thom (at) thomsinger.com