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Still Don’t Want to Go Anywhere? Business Development for those who are Remote(ly Interested)

April 01, 2024

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Have you noticed how in-person events have exploded this year?

There was, of course, the pandemic, the fear of which still ripples through the legal industry. Then the resurgence of the virus. Then, a general hesitation to gather with people in groups of almost any size, Plexiglas barriers or no. And now, conferences, conventions, and cocktail soirees seem to be returning in full force. 

Alas, not for everyone. 

Take, for example, one attorney we know who has immunity issues and is resigned to work permanently from home. Don’t feel bad for her – she does it quite successfully, as a matter of fact. Between connecting with clients through phone calls and video chats and doing Zoom hearings when the courts allow it, she maintains a solid workflow. When an in-person appearance is necessary, her departmental colleagues step in on her behalf.

Or consider the attorney we know in another firm who has simply taken so positively to the pandemical patterns, he simply doesn’t want to leave his space. “I find that I’m more effective in my office, without lunches and all the stuff that physically takes me away from my work,” he readily explains. 

And still, a third counsel, who is, in short, a mom. “I don’t have time for this. If I’m at a bar event, I’m not eating dinner with my family. And the annual section conference in the Maldives sounds great, but it’s right smack in the middle of lacrosse season.” 

All of the above attorneys, we should note, are adept at staying on top of their workloads, and actively contribute to their firms as partners. 

So, even though a lot of things are indeed happening in person again, some lawyers simply can’t – or don’t want to – make an appearance. Yet, business development, and attracting the work after the work you’re currently doing is done, remains important. How does one stay visible without being physically present?

 We both have some experience with this, serving our respective client attorneys who are often situated several hours from our offices, and advising those in situations like the attorneys mentioned above. Consider making yourself noticed through these approaches: 

In Print

Yes, we know, you’ve been asked a dozen times, but it’s still a good question:  Can you write? If so, author some articles that, to put it simply, scratch a client itch. You know your clients in the automotive supply chain are worried about the glacial movement toward electric cars. How will it affect them? Are there legal issues having to do with the transition? How about privacy issues, as the newer cars (most of them, anyway) have apps that track the personal data, movement, and even driving styles of their owners. Look for the thing they’re worried about, put it right in the lede, and scratch the itch. There is a trade publication for every industry, and many of them are hungry for pertinent, useful, legal commentary. Your P.R. person knows where to place your work, even if you don’t.  

If you like the idea of writing regularly or just being in touch with the media, consider joining the editorial staff of a publication dedicated to your area of practice. We know one attorney who is a volunteer editor for her state bar section’s newsletter. It’s a thankless job of sorts, managing deadlines and chasing down contributors, but her photo and welcome message appear at the beginning of every issue of the newsletter. She posts on social media each time an issue is released, thanking (and tagging) all the contributors, and that post is then reposted by the other writers and, often, all of their law firms to their audiences. If that isn’t visibility, we don’t know what is. Don’t take our word for it; she reports that the exposure has been good for her profile and for new business. 

In the News

Where do you get your news? Pay attention to the bylines. Who is writing the pieces that speak to your clients or referral sources? Note their names, then follow their pieces. Reach out to them when you have valuable information to add or share—especially if there’s a new development that you suspect the journalist may not have heard about. You may just be quoted in their next take on the topic. 

The key here, when reaching out to a reporter or news source, is to do it when the time is right, not any old Tuesday. Not about your Top Lawyer Trophy or your Super Solicitor listing (yawn), but a win in litigation, a deal, or bankruptcy, or a change in jurisprudence that affects your clients. And if you can’t talk about it directly, get someone else to do it, but to the right reporter or outlet. You can still be the hero.

In Educational Forums

Sure, there are a lot of opportunities to head to an in-person CLE and enjoy hot coffee under arctic AC vents, but virtual seminars are another great way for people to pursue training and resources for professional growth. You – with or without colleagues you recruit to present with you - can do that from the comfort of your own space. You don’t even need to be a preapproved CLE provider to do this. Most state CLE boards have a simple application and modest fee to certify a single program and, voila, you’re a provider! Better yet, you are now positioned as an authority on a topic where you can establish yourself as being open to work and referrals. You can also consider pitching a program to an already-certified provider. Then, all you need to do is prepare your presentation. They’ll handle the logistics of the webinar and market it to their likely sizable audiences. Suggestion: Make sure you end with an action item—the two things the listener needs to do immediately to address the problem you’ve just discussed. That is how you turn a CLE into a CL(i)E(nt).  

After the forum...put a skilled video editor to work. Have her take recorded “slices” of your webinar, with the most interesting or “gee whiz” moments and put just those into a two-minute mini-video. That’s what people will actually watch; hardly anyone will endure a 45-minute talk when it’s no longer live. Call the “slice” video something that points to the question it answers: “Your First Steps When Your Perfectly Safe Product Lands on the Wrong End of a Product Liability Lawsuit.” Also, if there was good give-and-take with an audience member, PUT IT IN (with the other participant’s permission). A two-way street is much more interesting than a lone talking head.

In Person

There. We said it. At some point in time, it may truly benefit you to physically show up if you can. 

Even if you’re committed to being remote, and even if your clients say they don’t care, and even if flying scares you, once in a while, go. Just go.

Well, don’t “just” go. Go with a plan. Learn how to make the most effective use of being there. Don’t show up waiting to leave. Prepare. Figure out whom you’re likely to meet; find the right people to talk to and, perhaps most important, follow up. Send them something you wrote, a link to your most recent slice video, or a news story about something you did. 

Remember, whether it’s a talk, a meeting, or a social event, being in the room is inherently different from being on the phone, or email, or even being on a crystal-clear Zoom connection (where we still can’t figure out where we should be looking – at the camera or the person). 

You gain invaluable intel on things that can’t be electronically communicated: body language, whether there is something else on their minds they’re not sharing, and the back-and-forth that comes with brainstorming and sharing ideas. And maybe best of all, they can’t really do anything else while you’re physically present. It makes them physically and mentally present.

Every trip, every effort, is worth it. Personally, we have never left an IRL meeting without new assignments. We gain a greater understanding of those who tend to be electronically uncommunicative. Most important, we gain greater trust from our clients. So, whether the firm is footing the bill, or you pay your own way, get in the car (or on the plane or train), and go. Any effort to connect with a present or potential client will always result in goodwill, information, wisdom, and, perhaps most important, a relationship.  

Joshua Peck of Joshua Peck Legal Communications is a former journalist and internationally known media relations pro for law firms; he founded the industry group “Law Firm Media Professionals,” and has spoken widely on legal P.R and Crisis Management. 

Jamie Mulholland of Jamie Mulholland Marketing has helped law firms of all sizes make business development ideas a reality for close to twenty-five years, winning a few awards along the way. Learn more at



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