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Weekend Book Review: “The Reluctant Rainmaker” by Julie A. Fleming, JD

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 2, 2010

Rainmakers used to be considered to be born, not made. Some people just had what it took to schmooze clients.  These were usually the seniors in the firm, while the juniors were expected to keep their shoulders to the wheel.

No longer.  Not for a long time.

Somewhere in the latter part of the 20th Century, firms started telling their juniors that they were being expected (not merely encouraged) to attract business to the firm.  And, this activity was to be in addition to billing the required number of hours and frequently without the financial support of the firm.

Ever since, lawyers have been trying to figure out how to do it.  Rainmaking is just another one of the countless responsibilities that lawyers must face and master.

This need to market, made acute by economic downturns and increasingly stifling  competition, has spawned an industry.  There are lots of experts who will gladly advise you how to build your practice . . . for a fee.  So where do you turn?

If you could only afford one book on legal marketing (no kidding!) , Julie A. Fleming’s “Reluctant Rainmaker” should be that book.  It is complete, yet concise, organized and very readable.  It can be read from cover to cover or topically.

Here are a few samples, chosen at random:

“I have never had a single lawyer tell me that he went to law school to bring in business.  Not one person has told me about the joys of networking, the pleasures of asking for business, or the delights of building a book of business.  Make no mistake, clients are often at the heart of a lawyer’s reason for being in practice, because lawyers often do want to help others.  But getting the clients and having the work to do is always assumed.  It is a shadowy, rarely considered aspect of practice for those who are deciding to be lawyers, and not much more for those in law school.”


“Daily activity:  Complete one business development task every single day.  These tasks can vary between quick and easy(making a phone call to check in with a client or referral source) to protracted and challenging (setting aside four hours to work on an article related to your practice area).  The benefit of daily activity is that you chip away at your task list, and missing a single day does little to compromise your progress.”


“One complaint that clients often have is that some lawyers take on the role of the expert too quickly, offering solutions before fully appreciating the problem or the desired outcome.  You will be most effective in offering assistance if you first ask questions and then listen carefully to the answers you receive.  Listening telegraphs that you respect the speaker and want the information he is conveying, and it creates the impression that you are seeking to understand what your conversational partner needs.  . . . And by ensuring that you understand before you speak, you will distinguish yourself from other lawyers without even opening your mouth.”


“Cliches are repeated because they are true,  and the old saw that failing to plan is planning to fail is a time-tested truth. If you are a reluctant rainmaker who has decided that now is the time to get started, you may be tempted to skip the planning step and jump into action.  Doing so almost guaranties that your activity will be poorly focused and that your results will be scattershot.”


“A website is now an absolute necessity for every law firm and sole practitioner. . .  . You can spend a great deal of time and money building an attractive site, but your emphasis should be on building a site that is effective for providing information and demonstrating to potential clients that you have substantial expertise. ”


“Activities with clients are the most valuable activities you can do.  Whenever you have contact with a client you have an opportunity to engge in business development.  Your client already knows, and one would hope, likes and trusts you.  The more you can do to develop that relationship through excellent client service and perhaps business/social activity, the more likely you are to retain that client’s business and to receive more business and referrals from that client.”

Well, that’s enough to get the idea. I purchased it on Kindle, so that I would have it available for periodic re-reading and browsing.  I can also use it for reference, either by using the Table of Contents (which is well-drawn) or through the word search function in Kindle.  I can also make notes in a Kindle book.  The only drawback is that Kindle does not capture the graphical design and certain parts may be a bit confusing.

I give Reluctant Rainmaker five stars.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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