Join us for this week’s rainmaking recommendation from trainer and coach, Jaimie Field.

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It’s the first day of September.

Let me repeat that in case you missed it –  IT. IS. THE. FIRST. DAY. OF. SEPTEMBER!

I don’t know about you, but this year seems to be flying by faster than most.  I am not sure if it is the fact that we are still dealing with a pandemic or if, as you get older, the days seem to evaporate, but I want to remind you that there are four months left to this year.  You still have time to make this your best year in terms of business development, but you will have to do the work.

I have discovered from working with lawyers in midsize, distributed, and big law firms for almost 20 years that nearly every one of them has used busyness as an excuse for not doing the things they need to do to become the Rainmaker they claim they would like to be.  I do call it an excuse and not a reason because every person on the planet has 24 hours in a day.  That’s 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds.  I cannot give you more, and only you can take away the productive time to make it less.

I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating:  You have the exact same amount of time as Richard Branson, who owns about 400 companies under the Virgin umbrella but still manages to take time off to go to his private island – Necker Island; you have the exact same amount of time as Jeff Bezos, who owns 15 of the largest companies in the world – including, of course, Amazon and Whole Foods; and you have the exact same amount of time that the Rainmaker you look to in the firm. So why is s/he able to create more business and you are not?

It is time to take control of your schedule.  Now, I know that many lawyers do not feel like they can control their time, particularly litigators.  But you can, and you can be flexible.

Why not try an experiment:

Part I:

Take one week and record all of your activities from the time you awaken to the time you go to sleep.  You are not allowed to make any judgments about this week.  Start on a Monday and continue through Saturday.  You are just living the week exactly the way you would live it had you not been recording it.  I suggest you print out seven daily pages from your calendar and then fill it in.

Start with making sure that your appointments are all listed for the week, and then document your life.

You need to record everything – for example, make sure you note when you went to the internet to do some research for your client or matter and then got “link lost” – clicking link after link until you lose track of time (which, by the way, is one of my worst habits as an information junkie).  Record the amount of time you spent on social media.  Record the amount of time you spent chatting with a co-worker (whether in person or not).  Record the amount of time it took you to write that brief, memo, or any other document.  Record the amount of time it takes waiting for something.  Record the amount of time you spent exercising, cooking, eating, going to the store, cleaning, streaming TV, watching sports, reading a book, or anything else you did.

On Sunday of the week you spent logging everything you did, take some time to go through all you recorded and determine where you are spending most of your “productive” time.  You do not have to include bathroom breaks, which one of my clients hilariously did – unless you are the type who brings their smartphone into the bathroom – which I do not suggest  (Ewwww).  You are entitled to relaxation time, but if you have time to binge the entire season of Clickbait on Netflix, you are genuinely using time that you could use more effectively.

Part II

Also, on that Sunday, take time to write out a complete task list of everything you need to get done.  It doesn’t matter whether it is due tomorrow or in a few months, make a master list broken down into various categories.  You can create any categories you would like, but I suggest:

  • Clients (use client name(s))
  • Home Tasks – this would include going food shopping, any honey-do tasks, etc.
  • Family
  • Personal – like doctor’s appointments
  • Fitness
  • Social – going out with or speaking with friends
  • Business Development
  • Administrative
  • Substantive Work

Then, determine which tasks need to get done, and when they need to be accomplished, and put them on your calendar as an appointment.  If, for example, it takes you a few hours to write a brief, then schedule the amount of time you are planning to spend upon it in your calendar. Finally, it would help to organize all of your appointments and tasks for the week by making them into specific appointments. For example, make spending time with friends and family an appointment.  Make running your errands an appointment.  You are getting the idea.  You are scheduling every minute of your time.  Then live by this calendar.

And, of course, you should schedule at least 15 minutes daily (or more) to do some business development activities.

While this doesn’t seem like it would allow for creativity or spontaneity, as Ali Luke wrote on the  Time Management Ninja website, this is not the case.

Rainmaking is about doing the tasks and techniques that will allow you to become known as the go-to authority in your field and create the relationships that will lead to new referral sources, clients, and client matters.  You have to find the time in your schedule to allow you to do this.

I do want to leave you with this allegory (I have written about in the past) by Marc Levy, from If Only It Were True that I have written about  before; it is a bit lengthy but worth the read:

“Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course?

Each of us has such a bank, its name is time. Every morning, it credits you 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off at a lost, whatever of this you failed to invest to a good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and health. The clock is running. Make the most of today.”

Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for 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 handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for 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 handles 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.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.