#LMA24 Session Recap: Making It Rain: Developing Women Rainmakers

#LMA24 Session Recap: Making It Rain – Developing Women Rainmakers

Nancy MyrlandAll Posts Leave a Comment

During the recent LMA, or Legal Marketing Association, annual conference in San Diego, one of the highlights was a panel discussion led by the incomparable Deborah Brightman Farone. Deborah moderated a stellar panel of “four of the country’s leading female rainmakers” who were there to share business development stories and advice that have allowed them to build amazing practices.

This panel of strong, accomplished women was worthy of a keynote session as it contained honest, valuable, supportive, and often humorous advice that all conference attendees would benefit from.

A Standing Ovation

Further proof that this panel discussion was a favorite was the standing ovation this group received at the end, which was earned by the passion, support, and the willingness to freely share their negative and positive experiences as they built four of the most successful practices in the legal profession.

The panel included: 

Janice Brown

Janice Brown, Equity Partner, Trial Lawyer and Employment Problem Solver, Meyers Nave

Palmina Fava

Palmina Fava, Partner, Co-Head of Government Investigations & White Collar Defense practice group, Vinson & Elkins

Susan Eandi

Susan Eandi, Chair, North America Employment & Compensation Practice Group, Baker & McKenzie

Jess Heim

Jess Heim, Government Investigations, White Collar Criminal Defense Compliance Partner, DLA Piper

 

These four accomplished lawyers shared their insights on many topics, but 3 of the business development categories covered were:

  • Authentic personal marketing
  • Mastering professional relationships, and
  • Empowering junior lawyers

Authentic Personal Marketing

The speakers challenged the notion that lawyers have to lead by selling their professional accomplishments and expertise, emphasizing the power of authentic, personal storytelling as a foundation for building meaningful connections and growing their practices. In other words, it is okay to be yourself and to show your personal skills.

One of the presenters shared a wonderful story about her experience mentoring a young associate, whom she called Tom. As a junior associate herself, the speaker was tasked with helping Tom navigate the early stages of his career. Though he was fresh out of law school and unsure of his path, she took him under her wing, offering guidance and ensuring he looked good in his role. This was a selfless act that made an impact on his career.

Over the years, the two maintained a close connection, and eventually, this presenter was able to help place Tom in a position as the head of employment law at a $25 million company. This experience, the presenter noted, taught her the power of authenticity and a willingness to help others – principles that have served her well throughout her career.

“My guiding principles have been authenticity and helping others when they ask for assistance,” the speaker reflected. “It’s essential to recognize the gift someone gives you when they seek your help. While there are plenty of calls I take with uncertain outcomes, I always learn from people in the process.”

Not All Business Development Activities Fit Everyone

One of our rainmakers went on to share another story about her first annual evaluation as a young professional. Despite believing she was doing well and eager to excel, a partner suggested she reach out to clients for business development, suggesting she take them to a Yankees game. She was hesitant as it didn’t feel right to invite an older male client to a game or dinner. She trusted her instincts as she knew she had to find her own authentic approach.

Drawing inspiration from her teenage daughters’ emphasis on authenticity, she began by starting small, saying yes to opportunities that came her way, like Friday lunches with colleagues, dinners with clients, and drinks with visiting partners from other offices. The point was getting to know each other on a more personal level, even if it meant embarrassing herself singing karaoke with clients in Tokyo or Hong Kong. That sounds kind of fun to me!

Find An Authentic Approach To Your Business Development Activity

For one of the rainmakers, finding her own authentic approach to rainmaking and business development meant being selective about self-promotion on platforms like LinkedIn, while embracing other outlets like writing articles and giving presentations. The key, she emphasized, is to identify what feels genuine and comfortable for you, rather than forcing a style that doesn’t align with your personality.

(I breathed a sigh of relief when another panelist talked about the majority of her business coming from LinkedIn!)

Is Your Business Development Activity Valuable To Your Potential and Current Clients?

Another important aspect is finding ways to make your events and invitations valuable for clients and potential clients. One rainmaker shared her experience organizing an annual event in San Francisco that provided networking opportunities and valuable content, an approach that helped her stay top-of-mind with potential clients.

Treat Everyone As A Potential Client

Another recommendation given was to treat everyone as a potential client. This includes being ready with a clear elevator pitch that anyone can understand – from your family members to former law school classmates. This lawyer shared that you never know where the next opportunity might come from.

Don’t Forget About Your Current Clients

One of the rainmakers recounted taking clients from Tokyo to a baseball game, where they had a great time learning about each other’s cultures while enjoying the game. She reminded us that maintaining relationships with existing clients is just as crucial as building new ones.

Mastering Professional Relationships

One of the lawyers reminded us that doing excellent work and maintaining connections with everyone you’re working with at a client’s business is crucial. Often, you’ll be involved in large investigations, collaborating with various individuals at the company, such as an internal audit or working with junior members of the legal department. She reminded us that people tend to move around quickly, especially in the Bay Area. A junior team member at a client today could become a deputy general counsel somewhere else next year. Having a good relationship with them from working together can be beneficial.

Networking Is A Team Effort: Work With Your Marketing & Business Development Professionals

A common theme was that it is important to find a networking approach that feels right for you, and to explore various methods of opening doors. One lawyer suggested that this is a team effort, and that lawyers should work with their marketing and business development teams because they are there to help. She said that when they post updates on the firm’s social media sites, you can then share or like those updates. She also suggested staying close to these business professionals as they can also ensure that your accomplishments are reported to upper management. By collaborating effectively, you can make strides in your professional growth and networking efforts.

Networking Opportunities Can Be Right Down The Hall

Networking isn’t always about meeting strangers at conferences or through cold calls. Another rainmaker panelist reminded us that connecting with a partner or associate just a few doors down who may think of you when they’re out with their contacts can be valuable. Also, try not to pigeonhole yourself too much in your area of expertise. Be prepared to showcase your versatility and range of skills, rather than just your specific area of expertise. This will make you a more attractive and valuable asset to both clients and colleagues.

Mastering the Challenges for Women in Law

Attendees in the room were also reminded that the challenge for women in the legal profession is that they are still considered different than others. Black women equity partners constitute less than 1% in the country. Women often compare themselves to how men approach their careers, which can be limiting. The real challenge is becoming authentically yourself while being successful in your field.

Authenticity is essential, but it’s not always rewarded in the workplace for women. Gaining confidence can come from various sources, such as building a $25 million book of business. Embracing your authentic self and attracting opportunities based on your true abilities is the goal women should strive for as professionals.

The biggest challenge for anyone is to create a mindset of courage and teach other lawyers to have courage as well. For one lawyer, it was about becoming comfortable with who she is, including her strengths and weaknesses. Once she became clear about that, people could sense her authenticity. She said that authenticity is like a magnet; people want to connect with you when you’re genuine. (I love that.)

Your skills and abilities also come into play. In her opinion, your inner self is the most significant component of everything you do.

Integrating Personal and Professional Life

As for managing everything in life, including business development and networking, one presenter shared that she doesn’t really like the word “networking.” Instead, she prefers to say that she connects with people in all aspects of her life. She doesn’t try to keep work separate from her personal life as it is a losing battle trying to find balance.

(Read that last paragraph again because it is very important.)

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t make time for herself – she does insist on spending time with her mom or going to Pilates on New Year’s Eve.

She also makes sure to schedule time with friends who aren’t lawyers and maintain connections outside of work. This way, she can create a well-rounded life where personal and professional aspects blend together harmoniously. She said that time together is essential. The narrative often revolves around balance and networking, but for her, it is more about connecting and integrating.

Junior Lawyers: Share Your Knowledge and Advocate For Yourself

One rainmaker said that she believes the firm’s primary goal should be to encourage a growth mindset among its employees, which can be challenging when working with lawyers.

Firms have a crucial role to play in nurturing their junior talent. By fostering a positive, supportive environment and helping employees recognize their strengths, she said that firms can empower their people to reach new heights.

She reminded us that junior lawyers are constantly learning, and to remember that not everyone has the same depth of knowledge on a particular issue.

She strongly suggests that junior lawyers find ways to share what they’ve learned recently, even if it seems insignificant. Reach out to marketing and other professional development staff and inform them about any new developments you’ve observed because knowledge is always valuable. Sharing insights through something like a one-paragraph blog post can be impactful.

“Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and insights, even if they seem small – you never know who it might help,” one speaker encouraged.

Learn How To Ask For Help

It’s essential for professionals, regardless of their experience level, to develop good habits and a growth mindset. Be willing to advocate for yourself and stand up for your abilities.

As the speakers noted, it is important for junior lawyers to be willing to be vulnerable and ask for help when they need it.

“Being vulnerable means having the confidence to learn and grow,” one rainmaker said. “It’s essential to stay focused on growth and boldness.”

Another rainmaker shared that there is something special about being connected with others in the firm who know the right places to find what you need and who can teach you things you don’t know. It is important to consider whose team you are on – not just your own, but also working in the best interests of your clients. She said to not be afraid to advocate for yourself and stand up for your abilities. If there is room on a client team, be happy to join.

Additional Lessons for Lawyers and Conference Attendees

As you can tell from this session summary, there were many valuable lessons shared by these successful women rainmakers.

Here are a few additional memorable thoughts they shared:

  • Ultimately, the path to success is paved with authenticity, courage, and a willingness to support one another. By embracing these principles, we can all achieve remarkable growth and fulfillment in our legal careers.
  • Don’t be humble when sharing your insights. When you attend a conference, go back to your firm and tell them, “Here’s what I’ve heard. This is what other firms are doing. You don’t want to be left behind.” For example, if you attended a panel on women rainmakers featuring representatives from various firms, it’s clear that promoting women in law is a hot topic. There are countless ways to approach these discussions, but being tactical and sharing your knowledge is essential. Refer back to your own experiences and provide valuable input.
  • Rainmaking is a journey of authentic connections.
  • There is power in genuine interactions.
  • Embrace your authentic self.
  • Growing courage and exhibiting vulnerability are important.
  • Integrate, don’t separate, work and personal life.
  • Credibility grows by leveraging learning opportunities through thought leadership.
  • Personal marketing isn’t about following a one-size-fits-all strategy.
  • Remember that it is not just about making connections. It is about making them count.

We were reminded that, by implementing these lessons and embracing the power of authenticity, women lawyers can blaze new trails and build thriving, fulfilling careers while reshaping the legal landscape for generations to come.

Congratulations, Deborah Farone, on leading an interesting discussion between these four extremely successful women rainmakers. Our time was well spent because of the rich content shared by these amazing women.

Special Note

While I have you, I am curating content like this post over on my LMA blog post titled:

#LMA24: Are You Ready To Go All In?

#LMA24 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Myrland, Legal Marketing & Business Development Advisor

Nancy Myrland is a Marketing and Business Development Advisor, specializing in Content, Social & Digital Media. She helps lawyers grow their practices by integrating the most important marketing practices to build their reputations and their relationships, which leads to building their practices.

Also known as the LinkedIn Coach For Lawyers, Nancy is a highly respected LinkedIn trainer and content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers learn and implement content, social, and digital media strategies that cut through the clutter, making them more relevant to their current and potential clients.

She is also a personal branding speaker, trainer, and advisor, helping legal and business professionals understand the importance and the impact of defining and reinforcing their personal brand.

Nancy is also the founder of the hybrid self-study and online course, LinkedIn Course For Lawyers, where she personally guides lawyers through the sequential creation of their LinkedIn profile and presence.

As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasting, video marketing, voice marketing, and livestreaming. Nancy also works with many firms and lawyers on Zoom and virtual presentation training and coaching to be the best they can be when presenting online.

She also helps lead select law firms through their online social media strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases.

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