While I’m out of the office today attending the Economist’s Annual General Counsel Conference in London, I’m bringing you another Rainmaking Recommendation from trainer and expert, Jaimie Field! I’m a big fan of Jaimie’s recommendations in this post, and use them myself – in fact, as a holdover from my days in high school (yes, that long ago), I still use a paper agenda to schedule my daily tasks, even breaking up long term projects so that I work on them a little bit every day to make progress. For me, it works really well to have a tangible list that I can cross things off of. I also create a monthly plan, which is tied into my overall operational plan for the ILN, which I review weekly to ensure that I’m maintaining continuity on my goals, and my organization’s goals.

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There is a “law”, really an old adage, you may have heard of called Parkinson’s Law.  This proverb says “work expands so as to fill the time allotted for its completion.”

What this means is that you will get the work done only as fast as needed to beat the deadline. In the case of procrastinators, if you only have a day till the deadline, then you will get the work done on that day – it may not be spectacular work, but it’s done. 

Why am I bringing this up in the context of lawyer business development? Because one of the most often heard excuses I hear as a Rainmaking Trainer and Coach is “I don’t have the time to do business development.”  And, time and time again, I have said that that excuse it total hogwash.  I have done the math and proven that you can have up to 35 hours per week to do whatever you wish and that some of that time should be spent on business development and marketing activities.

First, I have to be honest and say, I struggle with this myself.  When I was growing up I was a total geek.  When the teacher assigned homework and gave us a deadline that was in the future, I went home and completed the task immediately (and then went over it a few times to make sure it was perfect).  I am not sure when it happened, I think it was when I was in high school and there were more social opportunities that I became more and more of a procrastinator.

Now that I own my own business, and am not practicing law, I have very few actual deadlines I have to meet and procrastinate on tasks that I know I need to do to grow my book of business.  At times, this procrastination has hurt my business and health.

This means that if I want to get anything accomplished, I now put what amounts to arbitrary deadlines on the goals I want to accomplish. For example, and this is the first time I am putting this in writing (which also leads to having accountability from you – the attorneys who read this), that I am going to write the book I have wanted to write for more than a decade and that I will have it completed within one year from today’s date (Holy Schnikey! Putting that in writing is scary!).

But what it also means is that I for the past year I have been scheduling myself in a brand new way.  I now have deadlines for all of the tasks I want to achieve and they are actually in my calendar. I treat them as inviolable appointments and get the job done.

What does this mean for you and for your business development?

You need to start scheduling your business development activities. Not just the networking events that are on your calendar because you signed up for them, but the calls you are going to make, the articles and blogs you are going to write, the lunches in which you meet potential clients or referrals sources, etc. And you have to treat them as sacrosanct appointments.

If you don’t start scheduling your business development pursuits then the rest of your work “will expand so as to fit the time allotted for its completion” and you will be providing the excuse “I didn’t have the time.”

By the way – as a bonus tip, schedule your work as well.  Every evening before you leave the office, take the time to determine what you need and want to get done the next day and actually schedule it into your calendar.  Not as tasks, but as actually time-bound appointments.  This way, your work gets done as well (and you are not tempted by distractions).

  • If you are a mid-level associate who would like to become a partner or a partner looking to become a Rainmaker and are interested in individual coaching but would like to take it for a test drive, schedule your Rock Star Rainmaker Training Trial Session.
  • If you are a law firm leader and would like to discuss bringing a training program or a Rainmaking Seminar (with Ethics CLEs) in-house please email me. 
Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Director of Global Relationship Management. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths works closely with the Network’s Executive Director on the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Director of Global Relationship Management. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths works closely with the Network’s Executive Director on the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and shares responsibility with the Executive Director for recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.