EP 68 – Elise Holtzman – Developing Your Law Firm from a Business Development Standpoint

Elise Holtzman is the President and Founder of The Lawyer’s Edge. Elise is an experienced attorney, certified professional coach and consultant. She is a former lawyer, no longer practicing law, and practiced in the area of commercial real estate transactions for two New York City law firms. When she was practicing law, she found that there were no coaches or very few female mentors in a similar situation. She got involved with professional coaching because it would combine everything that she loved that utilized many of her strongest disciplines she had developed during her professional career. Now, she helps lawyers and law firms become more successful in terms of bringing more revenue into the firms and running their firms like a true business. Elise does this by helping law firms develop their people into great business developers as well as great leaders. 

You can reach out to Elise by visiting her website at www.thelawyersedge.com or send her an email at elise@thelawyersedge.com

Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and Business Development

The way that Elise and many others in the industry look at it is that marketing and business development go hand-in-hand with each other. So, what is the difference? Marketing is one to many. You are one person or one law firm and you are marketing to many people. It could be your website, you could be giving webinars, you could be writing articles, you could be posting on social media so that a lot of people are seeing you – they understand what it is that you do and who it is that you serve and they see that you are visible in the legal space and the business space. Business development is really more one-on-one. This is where you are developing relationships, preferably mutually beneficial relationships, with people so that they get to know you, you get to know them and understand what their needs are, and you can deliver value to them. Ultimately, when people have a sense of what you do and whom you serve and you have been delivering value to them and they know, like, and trust you, they are much more likely to hire you or to make a referral for you. People do business with those that they know, like, and trust. It does not necessarily come as easily through digital marketing – it certainly helps, and there are people who feel like they know you, but developing one-on-one relationships is critical. It will not change how you do things to understand the difference, but it is important to know that they do work hand-in-hand. The combination of the one-to-many and the one-to-one are critical to a law firm.

Investing in Yourself and the People on Your Team

One of the things that organizations like to say, and law firms are no different, is that “our people are our greatest asset”. If you are looking at your people and saying that they are your greatest asset, would you let your asset go to waste? If you had a physical asset such as a computer system in your office, would you not repair it, or update it and upgrade it, would you not keep it clean and tuned up? What happens is lawyers are expected to emerge from law school ‘fully formed’. It is true that your people are your biggest asset and there is a huge cost to having a revolving door. Where is the law firm investing in them? It is a two-way street and you are asking people to invest their time and energy and sweat equity in you (and yes you are paying them), but if you want to retain your talent, you have to invest in your people. If you want your law firm to be a growing, breathing entity that can keep doing better over time, you cannot let it stagnate. It is critical to educate your people on things other than technical legal skills, which also includes not only educating them, but also following up with support, whether it is individual coaching, group coaching, or getting them involved in certain initiatives and giving them the opportunity to get in front of clients and get in front of prospects so that they learn how to do this over time. You are investing in them over time and that sort of investment pays off. If you view it as a cost then you shouldn’t do it. It is a tremendous investment. 

Fixed Mindset Approach vs Growth Mindset Approach

As a law firm, let people know that it is a growth environment. There are two different approaches – a fixed mindset approach and a growth mindset approach. Some people take a fixed mindset approach to business development and you are either born with the ability to do it or you are not. What that means for everybody else is don’t bother trying because you will never be able to figure it out. However, if you have a growth mindset, there are many people who are going to get on board. It is really important for a firm to be able to set up that environment for people and understand that you may want to hire, or even promote, people who lock onto that culture and are willing to go with it. It does not mean that every person who is not willing to sign on has to be kicked out the door, it just means that some people are much better suited to be doing that work, cranking out the hours, and serving those that are out there doing the business. You will find that some people are going to be a good fit for you and that some are not. If you want a business development culture, or a diverse and inclusive culture, or a culture where leaders are made and not born, you are going to attract people over time that want the same thing. Over time, you fulfill your own desire to have a thriving, living, growing, breathing law firm.

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