It is no longer enough to be just a good technical lawyer. Although technical ability is important, that is not what makes you unique. If you want to make Partner in a modern law firm, business development and client generation need to be high on your priorities list, and you must be able to show your firm that you can be good at it.
Understanding that client generation can come from anywhere is the right attitude you need to adopt. We get asked to recommend lawyers all the time, and we definitely won't be recommending someone who was rude to us. We have our own clients to please, therefore the people we recommend will be the polite, friendly lawyers who we have long-standing relationships with.
But it was not the technical ability that made me instantly suggest one name – rather it was the relationship that had been established by an associate who has understood and cultivated their network extremely effectively that prompted the recommendation. This is how it works. There is no known science behind how many ‘touches’ are needed but what is known is that when it comes to business development, it is a mid to long-term exercise, it needs to be strategic and while there is no absolute guarantee of success, a positive attitude to being present, polite and persistent will pay off.