Allison Wolf Gives Advice on Rainmaking for Young Women Attorneys

Allison Wolf wrote an interesting piece on how to become a rainmaker as a young woman lawyer, even if you don’t view yourself as the conventional rainmaker. Wolf describes the stereotypical rainmaker as an extroverted man who “likes to talk” and is “a bit egotistical but keeps it in check” and "always out and about networking, attending events, and talking business.” Women who consider themselves for a rainmaking role, Wolf asserts, “determine ‘that’s not me’” based on the following reflections: “I’m not a grandstander.” “I don’t like to talk about my achievements.” “I don’t like networking events; I never know what to say.” and “I don’t want to come across as salesy.” Wolf claims these turn-offs don’t accurately reflect what rainmaking entails and that “it is important that young women lawyers adopt a business development mindset early on.”

What does building such a mindset require? Wolf states that “the way to develop business is through building trusting relationships with your colleagues, clients, and contacts.” Since it can take several years to build the kinds of relationships that will lead to new business, “the time to start building relationships is in the first years of your practice.” Basically, you need “to invest early to reap the greatest benefit later on.”

In terms of practical tips, Wolf suggests making “a list of the people most important to your success,” which will include “your clients, contacts, and partners at the firm” as well as your legal secretary and other support staff. Then ask yourself, “How are you nurturing these important relationships? Who is missing that could make a difference? Do you have a mentor? Do you need to build up your network of contacts in certain strategic areas?”

Wolf also recommends a “Connect With list,” which keeps track of the people you intend to contact over the next week, perhaps to arrange a coffee date or to send an article link or clipping that the other person might find interesting. Being busy is no excuse to neglect this relationship building: “the purpose of planning and action lists is to ensure that the time you do invest is wisely spent. You are busy. That means you have to be strategic. It doesn’t mean you should opt out.”

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