David Maister on business development

All writers have their favorite pieces, and while I wouldn’t necessarily elevate blogging to author status, I certainly have my favorite posts.  One of them is Relationship or one-night stand: how law firms view associates(and clients).  It’s a favorite for two reasons: first, it draws on an article about client development by David Maister to explore associate retention, and second, because I always chuckle when I see that someone has stumbled across this blog by searching “one night stand.”  Imagine what they must think!

Maister’s thesis is that lawyers must decide whether they want to develop relationships and trust for long-term client development or whether they want to engage clients on a case-by-case transactional basis.  The former requires sincere interest in the client and builds a connection that leads to the lawyer’s status as (to borrow the title of one of Maister’s books) a “Trusted Advisor.”  The latter is more difficult to create and to sustain because there’s nothing supporting the engagement beyond the exchange of services for money.

The mindset that Maister explores constitutes a worldview that will color the approach of a lawyer or law firm not only to its clients, but also to its associates, partners, and staff as well.  What worldview do you choose?

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