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February 12, 2009

Ten Rules of Rainmaking

I often quibble with the term “rainmaker” because I think it too often describes lawyers more interested in getting new clients than in keeping current ones.  However, because “10 Rules for Business Development,” and “10 Rules for Keeping Clients So You Don’t Have to Replace Them” don’t have the same nice ring as “ 10 Rules of Rainmaking,” I’ll use the term here.  Let me know what you think:

1. You’ll never be passionate about rainmaking until you start searching for clients you’ll be passionate about serving.  Remember, a great client is one for whom you’d work for free, but one who’d never ask you to.

2.  The best way to get new clients is to impress old ones.  Measure the happiness of your existing clients with the same diligence you measure your time, so you can work less on developing new business and more on deserving it.

3.  While there are hundreds of “strategies” to get new clients, there’s only one strategy to keep them:  serve them well.

4.  When meeting a potential client, don’t sell your competence, sell your compassion.  They must know you care about them before they’ll care about you.

5.  The single best way to get new clients is to ask your best ones, "How do I get more clients like you?"

6.  A client will never be as surprised by great legal work as they will by by good service.  

7.  Your new client’s definition of a “great” lawyer is probably far different from yours.  You must understand their expectations before you’ll ever be able to meet them.

8.  Recognize that while it is usually easier to ask for new business from prospective clients than it is to ask for more business from current ones, it is rarely more profitable.

9.  If your answer to “What kind of clients are you looking for?” is “Ones who pay,” you’ll get paying clients.  Terrible paying clients.

10.  The best thing you can promise a prospective client is more sleep.  Ask what problems keep them up at night, and build your practice to solve them.

I'd love your input, and feel free to add any of your "Rules" in the comments.  If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series:  Ten Tweets about TwitterTen Resolutions for the New YearTen Rules for Law Students, Ten Rules for the New Economy, Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal InnovationTen Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing

Also, if you'd like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.


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» You Must Understand Their Expectations Before You Can Meet Them from In Search of Perfect Client Service
The title comes from a line by Matt Homann is his post, Ten Rules of Rainmaking. The line reminded me of a retreat I attended once that was led by Gerry Riskin. Gerry began by asking the assembled group what... [Read More]


I really like #10 and think it has a lot of value. This is true primarily because if you can build a practice around addressing such a deep and compelling need for a prospect...they will seek you out when the service is refined. Moreover, they will thank you for the chance to work with you.


This is a really great list. I particularly like the fact that you recognize how hard it is to ask for more business from current clients. At the same token, clients who pay are really important. Yes, I want good clients, but I am tired of working for really nice people who don't pay me.

Hydration is Hydration - More rain from a known client is in some respects better than rain from a new client - you know more about what they want.
The risk, of course, goes up as a particular client becomes a larger fraction of a practice.

Excellent post - excellent blog. I'm lucky to have stumbled on it.


Good list Good blog

Ford Harding

Wow, what a great set of rules. I'm meeting with my 2nd prospective client tomorrow (1st didn't pan out) and I'm going to concentrate on #4 and #10.

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