Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rainmaking Revenue Goals per Attorney

What is a reasonable revenue goal for an attorney's business development program? A quick search of the Internet does not yield much in the way of specific suggestions on this topic.

The Rainmaking Lady's suggestion is to start with a simple minimum calcuation of one times the attorney's annual salary, plus a 25% factor for benefits. identifies average attorney salaries starting at $57,500 in Year 1, climbing to $114,958 in Year 20. Details at:

For purposes of an example, let's make it simple and work with a 10-year attorney who is earning about $100,000 per year. This number jumps to $125,000 with basic benefits. An annual rainmaking goal of 1.25 times salary translates into just over $10,000 per month in new business development. Looked at in terms of billable hours, it is 50 hours at $200 per hour, or 25 hours at $400 per hour.

Is this a reasonable business development goal? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on the firm and the attorney. It is certainly a stretch goal, rather than a slam-dunk goal. One new $10,000 account per month most likely means there have to be about nine other leads that did not convert to new business yet. Which means that an attorney has to maintain a continuous, focused effort on finding qualified prospects and converting them to clients.

Since business development time is so precious, it is easy to see the importance of creating and implementing an effective business development plan and sharpening one's selling skills. Where will new leads be found? Knowing the profile of your ideal client will help. What services are worth $10,000, particularly when transactions are slowing to a trickle? The attorney who offers an effective solution to known problems faced by those ideal clients is in the best position to make the $10,000 sale.

As stated, the above example of 1.25 times salary is a minimum goal. Three times salary is better ... 1 multiple to cover the attorney's expense, 1 multiple to cover overhead, and a 1 multiple profit contributor.

By the way, some other interesting (albeit dated) law firm management statistics were identified in researching this post. For example, see "Fiscal metrics to gauge a law firm's health," published by Altman Weil in 2003:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jenner & Block to Release 10 Partners

Amid proud announcements of Super Lawyers recognition, Pro Bono achievements, Working Woman awards, and Who's Who Legal: Illinois accomplishments, Chicago-based Jenner & Block has also notified 10 equity and non-equity partners that their services will no longer be needed.

"In this economy, we have to be particularly vigilant and are taking a hard look at every area of expense," said managing partner Susan Levy in a statement issued by the firm.

This is clearly an unfortunate career setback for the attorneys involved, who devoted many years of dedicated hard work to the difficult task of achieving partner-level status. We hope they will find future opportunities more ideally suited to their skills.

The firm's focus on expense tells a tale. Attorneys who represent an expense to the firm, rather than a profit center, are most definitely at greater employment risk in today's volatile economic climate. As lucrative deals become harder to find and lack of financing causes corporate cut backs, the attorneys who will survive are those who have learned how to attract and retain clients through even the most challenging business cycles.

Both the firm and the attorney lose when partner or associate sales skills fail to generate sufficient revenue. For those attorneys who are facing this economic downturn with rusty or inadequate business development skills, here are some basic activities that can provide short term relief:
  • Formalize your referral networking program. Create a 1-2 page plan that lists who sends you business (i.e., accountants, bankers, non-competing attorneys) and set a schedule for how often you should meet with them to share leads.
  • Market to your current clients. This is generally the fastest route to new revenue.
  • Start the dinner circuit again if you stopped attending industry events and bar association meetings. Get out, shake hands and pass out your card. Of course, you will want to do this strategically and not indiscrimately.
  • Evaluate your sales pipeline. Identify your best prospects and the "next step" that will get you closer to the sale.
  • Look for speaking and publishing opportunities. While this tends to be a longer-term cycle, it is a best practice to always be cultivating places where you can demonstrate your legal knowledge in a non-commercial, educational format.

As the Rainmaking Lady says, never stop marketing! Business development is a process and not an event. It takes a focused attorney marketing plan with effective execution to get new clients.

Read the full story on Jenner & Block in the National Law Journal.