What’s the secret to developing great client relationships? We asked the rainmakers. They told us it takes building your brand, fostering teamwork, understanding your clients, and yes, great lawyering.

I began practicing law in 1970, i didn’t have a clue and didn’t really think very often—or really at all—about how i would develop a practice. I left Wolf Block in 1976 to go in-house with a client, Teachers Service Organization. I became very friendly with the chief financial officer of the company, and he basically taught me how to sell. And he wasn’t selling legal services, he was selling various things for the company. And so I left Teachers Service Organization in the end of 1978, and around mid-1979 I went back to Wolf Block, and they said, “We’re interested in seeing if you can build a banking and consumer financial services business. If so, we’ll make you partner.” It was basically sink or swim.

I just took advantage of every opportunity that existed that I could find that would get me in front of a group of potential clients.

I would accept speaking opportunities, even if it was on a topic i didn’t know anything about—I would learn about it. I got very active in the American Bar Association Committee on Consumer Financial Services, [and] ultimately became chair of the committee in 1986. I sort of attribute that committee to taking what was before then a pretty local practice, focused much on Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania, and developing a national practice. A lot of clients i still have today, I met them through my involvement in the ABA committee.

Today, we’re now 115 lawyers at our firm in the consumer financial services group, and everybody is inculcated with my philosophy of developing business and the need to do it. Law is a great profession, but if you lose sight of the fact that it’s a business, you’re doomed.

What separates the great lawyers from just the good practitioners are those lawyers who know how to develop business and they know what clients need and they anticipate their needs.

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