2017 Winners - Business Development: Coaching/Training 

First Place


Client Outreach Derby to Refocus on Clients

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Summary: In late 2015, Allen Matkins was concerned that it was not doing enough to focus on clients and revenue generation. The firm’s sales and client services team proposed and implemented a full-firm competitive program to drive quality client interactions using "gamification" techniques. The objective of this program was to change the culture of the firm to be more focused on clients and client service. The purpose of this program was to "move the middle" by providing opportunities for other attorneys to take the lead in actively engaging with clients, interact with the established rainmakers and provide opportunities for associates to focus on client service. The firm’s goals were:

  • Have a singular focus on clients across the firm for eight weeks.
  • Drive client-oriented behaviors across the firm.
  • Train attorneys how to provide better client service.
  • Foster collaborative, team interactions among attorneys in pursuit of clients.
  • Improve interactions of attorneys with business development team.

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After reviewing the different programs, the team created a program that included these elements that borrowed best practices from others and had significant new elements:

  • A client-focused competition with prizes (based on a program developed at McKenna Long & Aldridge)
  • A "Client Conversations" program to drive meaningful conversations with clients (based on Wicker Park Group's program originally developed for Leonard Street)
  • Biweekly trainings on critical business development and client engagement topics
  • Significant game design to enhance competition, including different phases where attorneys competed as individuals and as teams, tie-ins for bonus points with sports and presidential primaries predictions, and a website with real time dashboards to track and manage all aspects of the competition

The quantifiable outcomes in eight weeks are as follows:

  • More than 85 percent of the firm's attorneys participated.
  • Each attorney averaged 8.46 completed activities. (One attorney completed 51 activities.)
  • 1,282 individual client-focused activities
  • 84 face-to-face client in-depth client services conversations
  • 176 client meeting or entertainment events focused on building client relationships
  • 14 events where attorneys co-presented with clients
  • Six onsite trainings for clients
  • Activities related to improving our ability to work with clients included:
    • 382 attorneys attended training sessions
    • 27 meetings between partners and associates to better understand our business
    • 111 client-focused marketing activities related to better engaging our attorneys in social media sharing, enhancing/creating a LinkedIn profile, developing an elevator pitch, reviewing and updating client mailing lists, etc.
  • Five new client engagements during the competition (and more following).

Second Place

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C.

Financial Services Client Visit Initiative

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Years of anecdotal evidence suggested that the Financial Services Department's most accurate "lead measure" of success — i.e., new matters — was client visits. Baker Donelson wanted to establish a clear lead measure in the form of client visits, and then set up a database to track them. In January 2016, the Financial Services Department set a goal of having its 130 attorneys conduct 1,000 client visits over the course of the Jan. 1, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2016, calendar year.

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The Baker Donelson marketing and business development department partnered with the web developers to create a database in SharePoint to capture the client visit information; the database launched in March 2016. The next challenge was getting attorneys to log visits. The financial services department already received a weekly email highlighting different attorneys in the department, so the firm began including a chart depicting each of the four practice groups' progress in order to inspire competition. It also highlighted specific visits in that same weekly email. Client visits were discussed in each practice group meeting, and the department chair occasionally distributed articles and data that supported the effort. The firm set Aug. 24 as a department-wide Client Visit Day and communicated the day for six weeks, urging everyone to schedule visits, and shared the results of that day within one week. The firm then shifted to an office competition for two months, before going back to the weekly practice group chart.

The initiative was very successful, with 644 visits logged from Jan. 1 – Oct. 31; the Aug. 24 Client Visit Day resulted in 83 visits, alone. While it is suspected that there are many visits that have not been logged, Baker Donelson created a reliable system to capture actionable data on the ones that are and have made client visits the norm. The firm has opened nearly 1,400 matters for the clients it has visited over the year, for a combined fees collected of over $7.2 million, along with many stories of attorneys getting matters during dinner or within hours of a visit. It also uses the database to drive collaboration among attorneys in follow-ups and additional visits. An additional strategy that the firm did not anticipate was being able to plan future visits based on industry indicators and the firm’s client revenue. The firm’s CMBS team has prioritized and planned visits to specific clients based both on industry reports that show these clients are gaining market share and the firm’s own growing revenue with the clients.

Third Place


McNees Strategic Collaboration and Business Development Program

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Summary: McNees Wallace & Nurick enhanced its firm’s business development strategies by educating and empowering its summer associates on highly strategic collaboration and business development techniques. 

Collaboration is the foundation for achieving the highest level of client service. In an effort to introduce team work to the future lawyers and leaders at the earliest possible opportunity in their careers, McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC designed a program to provide training, coaching and a presentation opportunity to its summer associates. The goal in offering this hands-on strategic business development training was to teach how to successfully identify and target an actual client or prospect, how to research and analyze using competitive and business intelligence, and relationship intelligence prior to pursuing new business opportunities. This training program empowered the participants in the program to provide greater insight, value and services to the firm on strategic business proposals. This program also provided McNees’ firm management and practice group leaders the opportunity to fully evaluate each summer associate’s research, team participation and presentations skills.

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McNees’ business development and marketing department provided the summer associates with training and coaching on several topics, including effective communication, teamwork and presentation preparation. The law students were divided into teams using the I-Speak-Your-Language Questionnaire, a survey of personal communication styles. Each team was assigned a client target and was responsible for conducting extensive research. The summer associates prepared a 20-minute PowerPoint to be presented two weeks later to an audience of firm management, practice group leaders, members, counsel and associates. Their presentations included extensive background intelligence regarding the client, specific needs (known and latent) of the client and the capabilities of the firm to address those needs. They developed and presented detailed strategies and recommendations to management for retaining and expanding current business or how to capture the new client.

Within months of the Strategic Collaboration presentations, all of the participating associates were offered and accepted positions at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC. The firm has been successful in expanding its client target base and has acquired new clients through this educational and strategic collaboration program conducted by summer associates. The takeaways for all attorneys attending the program are that they learned from law students that there is a better way to capture clients, and teamwork actually works! Using the strategic and analytical methodology for targeting, expanding current client relationships and capturing new business is far superior to taking shots in the dark or committing random acts of lunch.

McNees should win because the Strategic Collaboration Program for summer associates is an introduction to teamwork that impacted the firm directly and, in the process, enlightened the attorneys with new strategies that are currently being implemented firm-wide. We believe it is a rarity that law firms afford the educational and presentation opportunities to law students. It has enhanced the firm’s business development strategies overall by this highly transparent program.