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Jax Daily Record Monday, Nov. 26, 200112:00 PM EST

What makes a lawyer successful?

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New study finds reasons why attorneys do or don't bring in new business

What makes an attorney successful at attracting new clients?

The legal industry’s first in-depth Rainmaker Study has been done by recruiter Jerry Sears. The four-year study has discovered that lawyers can’t sell when they aren’t honest about their personal weaknesses. But with guidance, they can become successful rainmakers who are highly valued by law firms.

“Most attorneys will say that they didn’t go to law school to be a salesman,” said Sears, who has advised law firms for 20 years. “But the biggest reason they don’t bring in new business is that they fear being rejected during the selling process.”

Sears surveyed 1,000 attorneys, about 90 percent of them through verbal interviews during searches for America’s top law firms. Lawyers provided many excuses for why they couldn’t make rain: they were not glad-handlers or were too busy to recruit new clients.

But those responding to Sears’ questionnaire confessed to the real obstacles.

“Many had poor interpersonal skills and a strong need for personal acceptance,” said Sears. “Others had low self-esteem and were risk averse.”

Those weaknesses can cripple an attorney’s career, Sears says, based on his experience as a recruiter and advisor to law firm partners. Law firms now measure a lawyer’s “rain” in evaluating performance and determining compensation and bonuses. Firms look closely at a lawyer’s book of business when screening candidates.

Attorneys with poor rainmaking skills can improve themselves and their career prospects, Sears said. He has developed the “MentoringPros Rainmaking Program” to help attorneys identify and then change behaviors that keep them from attracting clients.

The program’s foundation is an adventure novel about attorneys that Sears wrote and an accompanying questionnaire. After finishing the book, the reader completes the questionnaire on paper or on the Internet. The responses give Sears a profile of the reader that serves as the basis for identifying rainmaking weaknesses and how to correct them.

Attorneys who want to test their rainmaking skills can visit Sears’ eLearning web site at www.mentoringpros.com. There they can download the study and the first chapter of Sears’ novel, “Making Rain.”

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