New Business Comes from Successful Follow Up – A Review of Jeanne Lee’s Workshop for Women Rainmakers

By Klaralee Charlton

Business development is necessary for almost every attorney at some stage in their career. The skill comes naturally to some, but for the rest of us, business development can be a painful, but necessary task. Due to innate personality traits, women especially struggle with business development. Author, speaker, and former in-house attorney, Jeanne Lee, from the ABA’s Women Rainmakers Committee recently led a workshop hosted by Perkins & Coie focused on how women can overcome some of these personality traits and succeed in business development.

umbrellaThe mission of ABA Women Rainmakers is to educate professional women about marketing and business development, to provide mentoring opportunities for members, and to provide networking opportunities to build personal and professional relationships. The Committee regularly hosts webinars, organizes support groups, and publishes articles for its members. Lee’s presentation in Denver was part of a nationwide effort to promote the ABA’s new book, Marketing Success: How did she do that? — a conglomeration of interviews with female attorneys who have mastered the art of business development.

The centerpiece of Lee’s presentation was the identification of four primary personality types—Director, Presenter, Mediator, and Strategist. Lee guided the attendees in self-identifying their own personality type and then discussed the strengths and weaknesses associated with that personality type in the context of business development. Lee then went on to teach us how to most effectively interact with potential clients who have similar or differing personality types. For example, when making a pitch to a potential client who identifies as a Director, a straightforward, results oriented presentation would be most successful. On the other hand, a presentation to a client who identifies as a Mediator should take a more personal and emotions driven tone.

One key take away from Lee’s presentation was that, in the majority of situations, new business opportunities will not develop from one conversation. Follow-up and dedicated relationship building is necessary before business development will arise. Lee reminded us that one follow up email will rarely put your name at the forefront of a prospective client’s brain when the time comes to retain counsel.

Lee suggests keeping a log of potential clients and building meaningful relationships with those individuals over time. She also recommends providing value added information such as sending a helpful article to a prospective client or researching the answer to a question that arose during your initial conversation.

The Denver Bar Association offers many opportunities to make those initial connections including the monthly Barrister’s After Hours networking events, the Practice Area Prevent events, and even CLE and social events. However, as Lee suggests, attorneys cannot rely on just making the initial contact with a potential client or referral source. It is the follow up after the initial connection that will be most beneficial to an attorney’s business development strategy and will result in successfully retaining new clients.


klaralee-charltonKlaralee Charlton (Chair-Elect of DBA-YLD) is an associate with Katz, Look & Onorato, P.C. and practices in their tax and estate administration divisions. Klaralee graduated from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law and received her Masters of Tax from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kcharlton@thedenverlawyers.com.