All or Nothing. Why Lawyers Need to Be Passionate About Rainmaking By Steve Fretzin

What do the movies “Rudy,” “Remember the Titans” and “Rocky” all have in common? While they are all highly entertaining movies, for me, it’s all about winning through passion, grit, and determination. In all these movies, you watch the struggle and strife where giving up seemed like the best or only option, but it’s not. Not for Rocky, or for Rudy or for YOU, the ambitious attorney looking to build your book of business.

Recently, I became obsessed with a documentary style show on Amazon Prime called “All or Nothing: Arsenal.” It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a big Premier League Football fan (soccer to the Yanks out there). This show follows a struggling team over their 2021-22 season dealing with a relatively new manager, a very young roster of players, and a superstar who wasn’t helping the squad come together. In fact, Arsenal started the 2021 season with the worst record in the league. My favorite person to watch, hands down, is the club manager Mikel Arteta. His job is to win games and by the end of the season, spoiler alert, they are in the top four or five in the league. Mikel’s ability to motivate his players to show heart, passion, and desire to win was unprecedented in my TV watching experience. Check it out or YouTube it and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

As an attorney in the year 2023, you too must have hunger and resolve to be successful, to win the game. As you know, billing hours alone never seems to win first prize. For many successful attorneys, it’s all about positive client outcomes and having your own roster of clients. Being a rainmaker creates control, freedom and for many lawyers, happiness. If there’s a way to win in the game of law, this might be the promised land. To illustrate how important the lessons learned from the show “All or Nothing: Arsenal” and in particular Mikel Arteta were, here’s three key attributes that you need to develop to be a successful legal rainmaker.

Attribute #1. You must have the desire to change or improve. It true, we all have bad habits that keep us from achieving greatness. For some it’s their weight and health; for others, it’s watching too much social media. Whatever the case, we need to get after the things we really want in life. I know it’s hard, but there are shortcuts and methodologies to follow that make it easier to change. For example, I struggled with staying tone and fit before and after my paddle tennis season. But, if you read my article from November of last year, you know I joined a Pilates class to take my game to the next level (still going strong in 2023). I needed to pay for a class that removed me from my home environment, as there are too many distractions and absolutely no accountability when working out at home. Get yourself to agree that change is critical and then go and find the resources and people that will act as your change agents.

Attribute #2. You must have passion for the law and helping others. For many attorneys, this isn’t a tough ask. You love practicing the law and are clearly passionate when talking about it with anyone who will listen. Ha-ha. Becoming a top-notch practitioner in your space and using that knowledge and skill to produce positive outcomes for your clients can feel amazing. But here’s a question you might not have thought about. If you’re passionate about the law and zealously representing your clients, is it an issue that they are not really “your” clients? Does that factor into your overall satisfaction in doing your job? I’ve worked in many jobs over the past 35 years and never found the same satisfaction in working with other people’s clients. To that point, bringing in your own clients, building a strong relationships and providing stellar service to them is on a whole different level in my experience. Remember, doctors are only doctors when they have patients to aid.

Attribute #3. You must bring your “A” game every day. Many attorneys feel like they are riding a roller coaster of business that’s going up (busy) and down (slow) all year long. This isn’t a recipe for long-term sustainability as a successful lawyer. Whether it’s a lack of legal business development activities or random acts of marketing, you can’t get to the top without a consistent performance.

The best way to stay consistent in growing business is to commit to a certain time and date to execute on the initiatives you are planning. This might be meeting with clients to obtain quality introductions, posting on LinkedIn, or writing a new blog post. Without scheduling time for law practice growth, it most assuredly won’t happen. Another terrific idea is to ask another lawyer to be your growth accountability buddy. Many of my clients do this weekly and swear to it’s effectiveness. You and your lawyer friend/colleague agree to meet weekly on Tuesday mornings from 9-10 a.m., for example. You prepare for that time by creating lists of names and various activities that you believe will be most impactful to growing business. Then, you meet by Zoom at 9 a.m. sharp and tell each other what you’re going to do for the next hour. You mute the Zoom call, do the hour-long exercise, and then come back at 10 a.m. and say what you did. And it better not be billing hours!

Having the heart of a lion and stepping up in your legal career is hard. You may already know from your life experience that anything deeply challenging will also be profoundly rewarding. If you need inspiration to win in your career as a lawyer, listen to the words of Mikel Arteta, “When you love what you do, that is called passion. We have to believe; we have to have energy. Show these people how much you care. Let’s go for it!”

If you need coaching, training, and accountability to achieve next level goals in 2023, please email me directly at [email protected] to discuss your goals for the future. You can also check out my BE THAT LAWYER podcast on my website or on any major podcast platform.

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