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The Friday Five

Bone Up on Business Development

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

When you go looking for inspiration and information on how to get and keep more good paying clients, do you end up reading about client databases, websites, incentive programs and practice group strategy? Yeah, that happens a lot. If you’re a solo practitioner—or a lawyer in any size firm trying to build your own practice and not the entire firm’s—it can be hard to find good stuff that shoots straight and speaks right to you.

Let’s Get You Some Help You Can Use

Today’s Friday Five delivers five books you can really use to rev your business development engines … now. Light on theory and all about things you can do simply and immediately, these five books are bound to find a place in your briefcase or backpack, or on your bedside table. They’ll tell you everything you need to know and do.

  1. Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips. Psssst, this book is every bit as helpful to men as it is to women. Written by lawyer Teddy Snyder, a frequent Attorney at Work contributor, this compendium of hot tips can be read from cover to cover or used as a meditation. Just flip the pages blindly and start reading. You’ll find inspiration on topics like creating effective email, gifts for clients, networking, making the pitch and more. It’s easy to read and filled with spot-on, no-nonsense advice. American Bar Association. $39.95.
  2. Legal Marketing in Brief. Author Bob Weiss came to law firm marketing via a career as a newspaper reporter. Which isn’t to say that he’s focused only on public relations—though he is brilliant in that category. He has spent the past 20 years jump-starting law practices that have been mired in fear and resistance to business development. It’s no surprise that Bob is a prolific writer, and this book is a collection of columns, essays and advice that has been published in other sources. The material is collected into categories like “Client Entertainment,” “Social Media,” “Client Service,” “Referrals” and “Working with In-house Counsel.” It’s good stuff and can be consumed in bite-sized bits of time. Alyn-Weiss Associates. $19.95.
  3. Professional Services Marketing 3.0. If you’ve been looking for good material on legal services marketing and found some, you no doubt know about The Marcus Letter on Professional Services Marketing. Anyone who knows anything about marketing legal and accounting services has long been reading Bruce Marcus’s pithy and brilliant material. He developed the first marketing program for a Big Eight (remember them?) accounting firm in 1951 and has been at it with law firms as well as accounting firms ever since. He’s the author of 16 books, including Client at the Core, and this is his magnum opus. It provides a quick look back and then focuses on the future of professional services marketing. It’s full of stuff you’ll want to know. Bay Street Group. $74.50.
  4. Business Development for Lawyers: Strategies for Getting and Keeping Clients. Speaking of gurus, Sally Schmidt has been helping lawyers and law firms build their practices since 1984. She was the first President of the Legal Marketing Association and has consulted with more than 400 law firms, ranging in size from two to over 3,000 lawyers. This is her second book. Her first, Marketing the Law Firm: Business Development Techniques, remains a bible for firms. For individual lawyers, Business Development for Lawyers will speak directly to you on topics like writing, speaking, being involved with professional organizations, responding to RFPs, networking, seeking referrals and cross-selling. ALM Publishing. $49.95. 
  5. Rainmaking: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field. This is the book I’ve long handed to lawyers who beg me for something simple to get them going. It’s a personal favorite for its clarity and for the fact it applies to all professionals—engineers, consultants, accountants, architects and lawyers. Reading it helps eliminate that “poor me, why do I have to do this icky stuff” feeling—plus, its price is amazingly low and it can be found easily at places like Kinko’s and Office Max! The author, Ford Harding, knows whereof he speaks because he’s done it. The book divides into three major categories: how to generate leads, how to convert leads into new business, and how to assemble tactics into strategies. Adams Media. $10.91. 

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton is Partner/Catalyst with Attorney at Work. She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She was a founding member and past President of the Legal Marketing Association, past President of the College of Law Practice Management and an LMA Hall of Fame inductee. She blogs about innovation at

Categories: Daily Dispatch, Friday Five
Originally published June 1, 2012
Last updated October 19, 2019
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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. 

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