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What traits make lawyers good rainmakers?

Posted Feb 25, 2014 9:27 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Lawyers who are willing to take risks are more likely to be rainmakers than their more risk-averse counterparts, a study has found.

The study by Lawyer Metrics found four traits associated with rainmakers, the American Lawyer reports. The study found that rainmakers are more likely to:

• Seek dominance

• Become consumed by their work

• Effectively lead teams

• Be willing to take risks.

The study, based on personality assessments of more than 300 partners, found that risk taking is one of the strongest factors separating rainmakers from client service partners, according to this summary. To illustrate, Lawyer Metrics describes two hypothetical partners. Pete, a low risk taker, plays it safe by contacting clients only when he knows they will be interested in talking to him. Rachel, who is more accepting of risk, is willing to risk rejection and is constantly engaged in efforts to seek new business. As a result, Rachel is more likely to be successful in developing clients.

Even those lawyers who were more willing to take risks were still more risk-averse than the general public. But those partners who expressed a willingness to take risks were about 40 percent more likely to be rainmakers.

Interviews with lawyers in the study found that rainmakers average about 465 hours per year on client development, compared to about 325 hours per year for client service partners.

The study authors are Monique Drake and Evan Parker-Stephen. Parker-Stephen told the American Lawyer that rainmakers tend to have high scores on only two or three of the four traits. Some client service partners, on the other hand, have high scores on some rainmaker traits. Many client service partners “may be natural candidates for coaching to help them develop the traits most associated with rainmaking." Parker-Stephen said.

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