Keeping clients after a lawyer retires

Question: How are clients kept with a firm when a lawyer retires?

This is a classic and difficult problem for many law and professional firms. Typically 10% of the lawyers bring in 80% of the business. When the rainmakers hit 65, they slow down, and their referral sources retire. Meanwhile, the next generation of partners has been accustomed to inheriting business and has no marketing skills.

This is usually when I get a call.

Firms must start with the premise that clients are a firm asset, and not a partner’s personal asset. I have advised law firms to:
– Have the rainmakers introduce younger partners to their client contacts
– Build teams around the top 20 clients, and to let the client know they have a team.
– Actively start cross-selling the top 20 clients. For more info see Larry Bodine’s webinar: Best Practices Of Cross Marketing and Selling New Services To Clients

– Create a business/strategic plan for the firm
– Compose a strategic marketing plan built around the top industries in which the firm has clients.
– Train the lawyers to go after target businesses and have each lawyer compose a personal marketing plan. Those who don’t make the effort have their pay docked at review time. Those who get results get bonuses.
– Don’t make associates partners unless they have a book of business; don’t hire associates unless they have business development skills.
– Require everyone on the management committee to be rainmakers. If they can’t bring in enough business to feed themselves and a platoon of associates, demote them off the committee.
And that’s just for starters.


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