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How to land clients without a big expense account

Three ways to develop business on a budget
Three ways to develop business on a budget

When it comes to business development, it seems like the profession has run out of ideas. Lunches, hockey games and golf tournaments are the standard fare.

These options favour the partners with the firm credit card. They can rack up big tabs at restaurants and take clients to see the Raptors courtside. But there are so many other ways to rock business development. You just need creativity and some healthy shamelessness. Here are some outside-the-box strategies that any busy lawyer can adopt.

Really use that LinkedIn account.

If you spend time writing thoughtful blog posts on legal news, hoping to catch the eye of a potential client, don’t just post them on your firm’s website. Publish them on LinkedIn, too. Think about it. People check social media throughout the day, but how many of us cruise law-firm websites?

Be creative with client outings.

Don’t reflexively take all your clients to fancy dinners. Instead, take a minute and think about what they might actually find fun. If one client is bookish, head to Indigo and browse around with coffees in hand. For the gamer, try a games room like The Rec Room in downtown Toronto. And if you have a bona fide sports fan on your client roster, why not skip the run-of-the-mill Jays game and go axe-throwing?

Know what keeps your clients up at night.

If your client runs a tech startup, research the heck out of their product. Set a Google alert on your phone so you instantly receive news that affects the industry. Then, next time you’re on a call, mention what you’ve learned. This will show your clients that they’re always on your mind.

Business development isn’t just for the most senior lawyers. It’s something every lawyer should start doing from day one. Try different things and find what works for you. And you if you keep it fun and enjoyable, your clients will notice.


Kathryn MarshallKathryn Marshall is an employment-litigation lawyer at MacDonald & Associates in Toronto. She writes about career advancement for Precedent.




This story is from our Summer 2018 Issue.

Illustration by Alina Skyson