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12 Questions – A Personal Checklist for Business Development

This checklist helps create a do-able business development action plan for all lawyers. Originally designed for a Law Society of Ontario CPD-accredited presentation for women lawyers at University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, it has an accompanying presentation: Marketing and Business Development for Women Lawyers that also works for men.

1.   What marketing tactics appeal most to you? Consider how these tactics fit with your personality, practice, and current and targeted prospective clients.

  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Social media
  • Teaching
  • In-person networking
  • Business association activities
  • Community association activities
  • Bar activities
  • Client industry conference participation
  • Client business management participation
  • Email signature, voicemail message, office environment, personal style

2.   What areas of your practice are growing and require more attention?

  • Are you a generalist or a specialist?
  • Does your practice have a niche?
  • Can you make a specific niche within your practice?

3.   How do other lawyers grow their practices?

  • Consider lawyers you admire, and ask how they cultivate clients.
  • Look within your firm at how colleagues have been successful and consider if tactics used by them are workable for you. 

4.   How can social media help?

  • When did you last update your online bio?
  • Does client work appear on your bio? How can you make this happen?
  • Do articles and/or presentations appear on your bio?
  • Do associations, and/or community/professional involvement appear on your bio?
  • Do you have a LinkedIn Profile?
  • Does your LinkedIn profile match your firm bio?
  • Is there a link from your LinkedIn profile to your firm bio?

5.   Current, Quiet and Past Clients

  • When did your last connect with current clients to ask for feedback, tips and/or referrals?
  • Can you reconnect with clients who have gone quiet to ask if their needs have changed and explain how your practice has changed since you last worked together?
  • Can you reconnect with past clients to ask how they’re doing, explain how your practice has changed and inquire if/how you can help?

6.   Who are the people in your variety of networks that can help?

  • Clients
  • Professional contacts
  • Colleagues
  • Personal friends
  • Your firm’s marketing team

7.   Should you consider a buddy system?

  • Are there professional service providers who provide complementary offerings with whom you can partner?
  • Are there colleagues within the legal profession who would be good partners for you?
  • Who are these people – ask if/how you might be able to work together 

8.   Do you have a mentor?

  • Is there someone further along in his or her career who can help guide you?
  • Is there someone you can rely upon to provide honest and helpful feedback?
  • Might professional coaching help? 

9.   How often do you reassess your goals and plans to achieve them?

  • How do those goals change as you get older and/or further in your career?
  • How do you balance life-family-work?

10. How do you focus on obtainable goals?

  • Choose two or three marketing tactics you like and can accomplish within three-six-nine- and twelve-month periods.
  • Perhaps attend conferences and make connections.
  • Ask clients for 10 minutes maximum off the clock to provide feedback, tips, and ideas of what you can do better. Follow through then report back.
  • Update your online profile(s).

11. How’s your personal brand?

  • What kind of person are you?
  • What are your unique skills and talents?
  • What is different about the services you provide?
  • Does your personal appearance and style match with who you are?
  • Does your online presence support your personal brand?

12. What types of support do you need?

Heather Suttie is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on legal market strategy and management of legal services firms.

For 25 years, she has advised leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — on innovative strategies pertaining to business, markets, management, and clients.

The result is accelerated performance achieved through a distinctive one of one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage leading to greater market share, revenue, and profits.

The effect is accomplishment of the prime objective — To Win.

Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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