Survey: Generally Content, New Partners Fear Lack of Training Will Hamper Ability to Win Clients

, The Am Law Daily


The results of The American Lawyer's latest New Partner Survey find that recently promoted partners are generally happy with their workload and compensation but aren't getting the formal training in business development they believe will ensure their professional success.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Continue to Lexis Advance®

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at

What's being said

  • Bill Flannery

    Lack of training does not surprise me. Many firms have decided to have unproductive partners coached by outside consultants. To the extent that coaching can help is dependent upon the efforts being focused on the ability of the lawyers to carry on strategic conversations with decision makers about business not the law. For that reason coaching can have limited success. The more important efforts to get lawyers to work in teams focused on the client's business strategy continues to be the major impediment to effective firm-wide business development. Also several coaches have become search consultants that coach the lawyers and then shop them around to other firms. Very clever but problematic.

    There will have to be a change in most firms for business development to succeed. Many firms do not have client teams which in this era of lack of loyalty both by clients and lawyers is tragic. Many firms are self-medicating and have little experience in training, creating, and leading client teams. Practice area silos and client hoarding continues to exacerbate the lack of internal teamwork. Firm leadership's reluctance to hold partners accountable for fear of defection is wide spread. Your magazine published an article in the early 1990s: "It's the client , stupid. Nothing has changed since the except firms have become "hotels for lawyers" and free agency has become the new normal.

    We have tested the skill levels on 16,000 lawyers with a simple 10 question business development test only to find that 30 out of 16,000 scored 100! The average partner in a law firm today spend 30 hours a year in face-to-face meeting with current clients and prospects. Lack of training, low biz dev hours, and ineffective leadership will continue to plague law firms. It will be the culture of the buyers that will force change. Too often I hear that business development must fit the firm's culture and I quote my favorite law firm culture consultant, John Stuart Mill, "Culture is the perpetual impediment to progress"

  • Craig Brown

    True, smart law firms need make choices about how to best allocate training and coaching resources, but I find too often key people who can make significant contributions are passed over for business development training based on a subjective view of personality. See a recent blog post on the same subject called “Which Lawyers Respond Best to Business Development Coaching” )

    A helpful tool for determining which lawyers will respond well to business development training is the Lawyer Behavior Profile. I have used it for years with great success.

    Craig Brown

  • Stephen Seckler

    Business development training and coaching is a long term investment. The benefits of this investment may not be seen for months or years. Because of this, law firm leaders can find it difficult to justify the expense which includes salaries for marketing professionals,fees for outside consultants and most importantly, a loss of billable hours.

    But a well run law firm should be making this investment. All well run businesses are thinking about and investing in the future. Law firms should be doing the same.

    While this survey suggests that many law firm partners do not feel they have been adequately trained in business development, the reality is that a "smart" law firm still has to make some choices about the best way to allocate training and coaching resources. So even though most partners say they want more guidance in this area, firm leadership still needs to decide the best way to allocate those resources. Rather than investing heavily in making sure that every partner has a minimum competency in marketing, it probably makes more sense to allocate the largest percentage of this limited recourse to those partners who have the greatest potential.

    In the end, there may still be a large number of partners who feel they do not get the training they need; but from the law firm's perspective, that does not necessarily mean that the firm is making bad choices about budgeting money for training and coaching.

    Steve Seckler
    Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching (

  • Bruce W. Marcus

    This is an argument I've been making for years. Asked to address a client's Summer interns, I asked them how many had a course on marketing and in management in their law schools. None. How many were told that practice development was an integral part if their career development? None.I then asked "How many of you can swim? Virtually all."How many of you learned to swim by having your parents throw you in the water and said, "Sink or swim?" They laughed. "But, " I said, "Isn't that what your law school is doing to you?" Bruce W. Marcus, Editor, The Marcus Letter on Professional Services.

Comments are not moderated. To report offensive comments, click here.

Preparing comment abuse report for Article #1202575884133

Thank you!

This article's comments will be reviewed.