Client development and relationship building: school hosts national expert

Nationally recognized legal consultant William J. “Bill” Flannery Jr. spoke during an April Lunch and Learn that is being described by many as one of the most well-received programs hosted by the school in years.

The presentation was organized by the school’s Career Services Department, the Small Business Administration and the Corporate and Business Law Society.

According to Ellen Kiefer Sefton, director of Coastal Law’s Career Services Department, a second-year student respondent who was so moved by the experience suggested Flannery be a graduation speaker. A third-year student, she said, claimed it was the “most practical, relevant and helpful presentation” ever attended.

Why the excited response? Let’s just say Flannery spoke on one of the legal profession’s most critical points — getting a job.

“He is clearly considered the ‘go-to’ person nationally in the area of relationship and client development in law firms,” said Sefton.

Flannery is president of The WJF Institute, based in Austin, Texas. During the past 23 years Flannery’s firm has conducted small group training sessions for more than 16,000 lawyers around the world. Flannery built his career at IBM, where he was instrumental in developing a marketing group that created technology systems for the legal profession, according to his bio. Flannery received his Juris Doctorate in 1973 while working at IBM.

His Florida Coastal School of Law presentation encouraged students to think about the employer rather than their resume. He said employers hire candidates who understand their practice and its unique challenges. Another tip? He said employers want candidates they like and can trust, and that building rapport is an important key to finding a job.

In his presentation, Flannery laid the groundwork for the tough hiring competitions students will soon face. He encouraged students to have a process, beginning with a plan, some face-to-face interviewing, and a follow-up plan.

He added there is an emergence of new roles for law schools. In addition to the standards, he said there should be an added focus on counseling students on the reality of the law firm culture, the business of law, clients and client service, leadership, and how to get hired and keep your job.

“We were so fortunate to have him on campus,” Sefton said. “He was so gracious, and I feel confident he’ll be back.”

Flannery’s 12 things you need to know to be a successful lawyer:

1. Think like a client.

2. Take a marketing and sales course.

3. Understand the business of law.

4. Take a course on interviewing and being interviewed.

5. Become knowledgeable on technology.

6. Take a course on interpersonal communications and presentations.

7. Video yourself making a presentation and having a face- to-face interview.

8. Select a career direction and be prepared to change.

9. Select an industry and study the economics of the practice.

10. Market yourself by asking what the buyer is looking for.

11. Expect and embrace change.

12. Learn to bring in business no matter what the law firm tells you!

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