So how do you motivate lawyers to make rain? Notes from our July program

In July, speaker David Ackert joined LMA SoCal in Orange County and San Diego to lend insight into how to motivate lawyers to become successful business developers.  Did you miss the program?  We have included some of the program's key takeaways below.

Why are lawyers frustrated by their efforts or reluctant to market?

Firm management gives mixed messages to marketing/business development professionals:

  • Coach lawyers to develop business, but don’t rock the boat
  • Implement technology, but be cost-conscious…and “I don’t use CRM”
  • Cross-sell, but “not to my clients”
  • Do client feedback interviews, but “not from my clients”
  • Be innovative, but let’s see what has worked for others first
  • No accountability for lawyers’ inaction

Understanding Lawyers Attitudes

Based on an Altman Weil Flash Survey, lawyers:

  • Rank higher with sense of urgency than the general public
  • Prefer autonomy (only lawyers understand lawyers; lawyers are more comfortable knowing than not knowing information)
  • Rank lower on resilience
  • Rank significantly lower on sociability
  • Prefer intellectual connections rather than emotional

Techniques for Effectively Shifting Lawyers' Attitudes and Behaviors

The survey reveals characteristics common among lawyers - attorneys are, practical, analytical, prudent, articulate and competitive.  By devising strategies with these characteristics in mind, business development and marketing professionals can more effectively motivate lawyers to develop business.


  • Lawyers, like many of us, are more comfortable when playing to their strengths
  • Give a list of options that will accomplish a lawyer’s BD goals (i.e., list of activities). Find out where the lawyer feels most comfortable and where they think they can grow with mentoring
  • Provide a roadmap with specific action items


  • Use data to prove outcomes (referral -> meeting -> matter -> revenue)
  • Create a baseline metric so you can compare results - have the lawyer rate themselves via BD efforts before and after to access progress


  • Let the lawyer say “no” so they can get to “yes”
  • Remember, “no” means “no for now"
  • Leave the door open


  • Provide a forum for discussion
    Lawyers are sensitive to their status, and are more receptive to ideas from other lawyers/their peers


  • Award early adopters and acknowledge them publicly
  • Obtain feedback from the junior partner/associate ranks
  • Consider using scoring systems to motivate

By using a combination of these strategies, marketing and business development professionals can motivate and groom their lawyers to make rain.

About the Speaker

David  Ackert, M.A., is the President of The Ackert Advisory, and mentor to  high-achieving professionals in the legal, corporate, finance, and  accounting sectors. David has advised hundreds of lawyers, CEOs and  professional-services executives on overcoming business development and  marketing challenges. Read more »

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