Business Development Women in Law

Rainmaking for women lawyers – the best start is an early start

My article this week in The Lawyers Weekly has generated some attention and controversy. Nicole Black in her new blog New Lawyers Back on Track has raised some thought-provoking concerns. 

Thanks Nicole for picking up the article. Much appreciated! To clarify on a couple of issues you’ve raised,  please know that I am an executive coach.  As such my clients set their own goals and agendas.  If a woman lawyer has a goal of becoming a partner in a law firm then I would certainly encourage her to consider business development as one of the vehicles to support her advancement.

While it is vital to keep a long term perspective on possibilities for transforming our law firm workplaces, it is equally important to many women that they continue to strengthen their position within the current system. Developing and expanding one’s own loyal client base is vital to achieving power, authority, and financial equality.  As long as one depends on others to provide the work, one is by definition dependant.  This applies to both genders.

Business development means investing in relationships. The purpose of strategy in this context is to ensure that a lawyer’s investments in time are right on target and offer maximum benefit.

In my experience I have seen large numbers of lawyers both young and old turned off by the stereotypical image of the rainmaker.  In fact, there is a different and effective approach which is very much in alignment with these women lawyers own values and integrity.  I want to encourage both women and men who don’t identity with the extroverted model of rainmaker to develop their own equally successful approach based on developing strong legal credentials and developing an ever-expanding base of trusting relationships with clients, referral sources and others.  No grandstanding, polished speeches, or tickets to the NBA (or in the Canadian context NHL) required.

When it comes to innovation and new approaches to rainmaking you truly stand out as the author of not one but three blogs!  That is precisely what I meant when I wrote assess your strengths and develop your own personal approach grounded in your values, your professional goals and I would add your interests. 

Thanks Nicole for encouraging the discussion on this very important topic!

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.