One career path is to strive to be an intellectual giant in your field. You're the trial lawyer who dazzles everyone in court. Law students make it their business to catch your act.
The other option is to bring in new business and to keep bringing in new business. You are as relentless as a used car salesman but with Ivy League polish.
That rainmaking ability might be related to expertise in your discipline. But not necessarily. Many geniuses in new business development are lackluster in the nuts and bolts of their profession. But, that doesn't really matter, not a bit. When push comes to shove in a firm, it's the rainmaker who will survive.
So, in these uncertain times when employment, even among equity partners, is on the line, shrewd players want to be on the rainmaking side of things. They might have been at the recent conference of the Legal Marketing Association to gain insight. At that, reports Leigh Jones in THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL, they were told that they had to invest the time - up to 700 hours per year - in cultivating the kinds of relationships which could produce business. Also, they should look for a mentor type who could show them the ropes.
That seems to make sense. Nice genteel stuff to articulate at conferences. But as those of us who have assisted the great hunters with their marketing materials understand, it all comes down to the simple mindset: Dinner is out there. You have to be convinced of that. Those who aren't wind up squandering too many of those 700 hours analyzing - and attending conferences. Also luck counts, as Mark Herrmann hammers in his new book "Inside Straight."