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Podcast Ep. 126: The Art and Science of Business Development in the Legal Industry: You CAN Make it Rain

by Talia Schwartz • March 4th, 2021 • Podcast

In this episode of The Legal Marketing 2.0 Podcast, Guy is joined by Karen Kahn. Karen started her career as a psychologist and later went on to become a strategic business development and career coach. Given her impressive track record of helping lawyers expand their books of business, Karen is one of the most sought-after coaches in the legal profession. 

Guy and Karen discuss the challenges that most lawyers face in terms of business development. Tune in to hear Karen offer valuable advice on how to cultivate valuable professional relationships that will yield new business opportunities for years to come.

Episode Show Notes

Why is it that so many lawyers don’t enjoy business development as much as the other work they do? 

When you are training to be a professional, very rarely does anyone mention how to actually create a business for yourself. Not only is it not talked about, but there is no training for it either. 

All of a sudden, as soon as you start your career at a law firm, people start telling you that a major part of career success for you is going to be generating new clients. Many budding lawyers aren’t happy to hear this. Lawyers tell me all the time, “If I wanted to sell then I would go into sales and not law”. Naturally, they end up feeling like they got caught in a bait and switch and are really angry about it.

Additionally, the billable hour requirement often gives lawyers very little time to work on business development. For lawyers with responsibilities at home such as their kids, making time for business development can be difficult.

Do you find that business development is a skill that’s innate or do you think it’s more of a skill that you learn and hone over time?

I think of business development as a strategy. If you don’t know how to do it, then you simply can’t do it effectively. I think it’s easier for some personality styles but ultimately, practicing the right approach is most important to be successful.

A good strategy involves learning how to utilize each connections’ personality, comfort zone, values, and goals in a mindful way. When practiced effectively, a good strategy can turn out rainmakers no matter what. 

How can a lawyer be successful at business development, particularly when it’s something that he/she doesn’t really want to do?

First, you need to ask yourself “why should I do this and what’s in it for me?”. I came up with six elements or reasons to focus on business development. 

  • Number one is invulnerability. Generating consistent business for your firm makes you indispensable. 
  • Number two is income. You need to ask yourself “what can more money do for me?”.
  • Number three is it’s the ideal way to practice law. By generating business for yourself, you can practice law on your own terms. 
  • Number four is independence. By bringing in business for your firm, you can give yourself more freedom and flexibility.
  • Number five is impact. Generating business grants you a voice at the table and gives you real power at your firm. 
  • Number six is indulgence. Business development gives you more income to treat yourself however you wish. 

When you find what combination of these elements is really important to you, you can think of business development in a positive light.

Additionally, there is a myth that business development takes a long time, and it simply doesn’t. Focusing on business development for 15 minutes a day can double your book of business for the year.

In your book Daunting to DOable You CAN Make it Rain you lay out a 4 step methodology.  Can you please describe it and explain what drove you to create it?

To accomplish any feat, it’s important to adhere to a methodology that works. I have a 4 step methodology that has worked well for both me and my clients. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why?: Why do I want to develop business?
  • What?: What are my goals? What do I want on the day I retire? What about in the next 5 years?
  • Who?: Who will buy my services and connect me to buyers? 
  • How?: How do I develop my working relationships? How do I communicate effectively?

Action without strategy is time-consuming for most people. However, when you have thought out your strategy, and you know your goals, you can generate business more efficiently. 

What do you think is the most important thing a lawyer must keep in mind in order to develop business?

The fact that business development is a relationship-based pursuit is most important to keep in mind. However, there is more to it than that. 

You can have numerous connections but, of course, you can’t develop new business if none of those connections bring you business. 

That being said, in order to generate business, you must form your relationship over a need your connection has and not a need that you have (to develop business). Their need may be in an area you practice, but it may be in a different area. Regardless, providing value to those relationships around their need is what will cultivate new business for you. 

Let’s say you’re trying to build a relationship with someone you’re trying to get business from. Is there a methodology with regards to how frequently the lawyer should be in touch?

You really have to rely on your own intuition. It all depends on the nature of the professional relationship and your connection’s need. 

If, for instance, you were working with someone who was just hacked and you could help them with that exact problem, you may want to check in every day. On the other hand, if you had an interesting conversation with someone that you could see yourself working with later down the line, then you may want to wait 30 or 60 days to follow back up with them. However, it’s important to create a system so that you don’t lose track of that relationship.  

You are going to be teaching the Good2bSocial Academy’s Business Development Coaching Certification Course? Could you describe it for our audience and explain why you created it.

You and I are both big believers in the power of coaching. Coaching for me is a magic pathway to achieving what’s important to you. Many people are independent and can work towards a goal, however, many people don’t have a sound methodology for working toward a goal. With all the chaos in the world and the challenges of being a lawyer, it can be extremely helpful to have the guidance and support of a coach. 

In the course, we will discuss ways to apply highly effective coaching skills and techniques to help lawyers elevate their abilities to generate business. We will discuss strategies, methodologies, and ways to motivate lawyers and ideas to get attorneys to say “yes” to becoming rainmakers.

Any word of advice or anything you want to share with our audience?

A question I get a lot is “what would you do today if you were me?”. What I would suggest is to go back through your calendars and look at the people you have interacted with who you have really great connections with. Go online and research them and make a list of 10 people or so to reach out to. Touching base one by one and striking up a casual conversation with your connections is the first step you should take to eventually getting business from them later on. 


Business development is undoubtedly critical for being successful in law. However, business development is often overlooked and neglected in the legal community. Given that it’s seldom discussed, many lawyers are unsure about how to work with their connections to generate business. Fortunately, with a sound methodology and persistence, generating new business can be straightforward and manageable.  

Good2bSocial Academy’s Business Development Coaching Certification Course covers everything you need to know about how to coach lawyers on business development. In this 8 week course, Karen Kahn breaks down the strategies she has used for decades to turn lawyers into rainmakers for their firms.  


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