Situation: Four junior partners at a large San Francisco-area law firm did excellent work and were in high demand, but weren’t building their books of business as quickly as they wanted. Each one knew that bringing in new clients was crucial to their future success at the firm, yet none of them had been able to find the time in their days to actually focus on business development. Their daily schedules were sclerotic with non-negotiable client demands, partner requirements, and committee meetings. Cramming in business development activities seemed impossible, even though that work was arguably their highest priority. Intervention: We identified three areas in which a small change would yield large results. First, we created a filing architecture that separated the essential business development files from lower value, reference materials. Making the business development files more visible improved the partners’ ability to focus on their goals (bringing in new clients) and eliminated the time lost in searching for the information they needed. Second, we moved their daily activity focus from their email inboxes to their electronic calendars by actually scheduling their critical tasks. This shift made them more proactive rather than reactive, and ensured that they had time each week for business development. Third, they explicitly defined the core actions that comprise “business development”: internal networking, external networking, and activities to raise their visibility – and then put those on the calendar.

Resolution: After two months of training, the results were in: the four partners increased their average promotional time by 24%, from 25 hours to 31 hours per month.