Business Development Marketing Training and Retention

Business development training programs for lawyers that work

Part Two 

I first blogged on this topic in December. Today I will continue where I left off and provide my top ten list of steps for launching a successful associate marketing and business development training program:

  1. Segment your training to target lawyers of a particular year of call, or practice area, so that the curriculum content is appropriate to their skill and knowledge level and can be put into immediate practice.
  2. Conduct strength assessments with the associates taking part in the training program.  These assessments provide a measure of where they are starting from, help frame the business development process, and serve as a point of departure for developing their personal business plans.
  3. Launch the training program with a Mindset component.  Mindset means aligning the business development approach to the strengths and values of the participants, framing business development in the context of career success, and clearing up any misconceptions about what business development is all about.
  4. In keeping with the active learning emphasis, hold monthly meetings, with actionable homework and feedback components. 
  5. Connect the content of the monthly training sessions to each associate’s goals and business plan. 
  6. Use the training program and homework items to support associates in developing the habit of integrating regular business development activities into their weekly schedule.
  7. Track results.
  8. Small groups provide the opportunity for discussion.  Each training component is followed by an action item.  For example, after the networking session the associates each attend a networking event.  Following the event they prepare a brief memo on what worked, what didn’t, what contacts they made, how they will follow-up.  At the next training session the first minutes of the class are then spent reviewing the group members’ experience of the networking event.
  9. Integrate partner experiences into the program through holding partner panels, or collecting business development stories from the partners for inclusion in the training sessions. 
  10. Integrate client experiences into the program through holding client panels, sharing client survey results, or by creating opportunities for the participants to speak with clients of the firm. 

Just like learning to improve a golf stoke, lawyers can best develop business development skills through putting knowledge into practice and receiving feedback on performance.  Training programs require more than just the seminar component.  They require action assignments and the opportunity to debrief with colleagues and a coach or mentor after the event.

Developing a successful business development training program takes time and effort, but the rewards are substantial:

¢ A training program with measurable ROI
¢ A  team of lawyers who all business develop
¢ Increased retention of associates

Done right, programs that teach the participants new business development skills, encourage new behaviours and have measurable goals and results will have a fundamental impact on profitability and retention.

For further reading on this topic don’t miss the Hildebrant Article: Masterclass: Adopting A Business-Development Attitude: A Shared Responsibility

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.