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Preparing Your Associates Now to Become Elite Rainmakers

November 15, 2023

Author: David Freeman
David Freeman Consulting Group and Lawyer BookBuilder


The dynamics of compound interest apply both to building wealth and developing the skills to build that wealth. “Deposits” that are made now in training associates how to become great rainmakers can compound into much greater returns in the future. In this piece, I will briefly highlight the types of investments that are appropriate at different levels.

For Newer Associates:

While this population is still learning the fundamentals of becoming excellent lawyers, they can also begin their rainmaker journey by acquiring business development skills such as:

  • Developing their personal brand, especially internally.
  • Delivering outstanding levels of service, both internally and externally.
  • Nurturing their existing networks and making new valuable contacts.

Training sessions can be conducted virtually or live, and each session should contain “homework” assignments which can be reported on in follow-up cohort debrief meetings that will create accountability for action and a forum to discuss their assignments and share their learnings.

For More Experience Associates:

As these lawyers become more client-facing, they can be reminded of the prior skills (compounding) to refine their capabilities in those areas, while also learning new topics. For example, in my business development e-learning program, we provide a curriculum that covers key topics such as:

  • Building the Right Mindset and the Right Habits
  • Constructing Your Plan
  • Crafting Your Personal Brand
  • Building Your Internal and External Networks
  • Delivering “Wow” Levels of Service
  • Getting and Maximizing Meetings
  • Staying Top-of-Mind
  • Mastering the Art of Cross-Selling
  • Locking It In and Developing Key Measures

These skills can be delivered through e-learning, virtual training, or live events, and as suggested above for the newer associates, cohort groups can be formed to encourage accountability for action, community learning, deeper cross-firm connections, and cross-selling.

Encouraging Implementation

As we know, training alone is not enough. To encourage your lawyers to continually act on the training and deepen their learning, you can consider some of the following:

  • Homework: You can assign personal actions, actions where they engage in paired exercises with other cohort members, and/or meetings with others in the firm who are not part of the program (e.g., interview partners, etc.).
  • Facilitation: Assign senior associates to facilitate the cohort debrief meetings to deepen their ownership of the topics. You can rotate facilitation roles to include more participants.
  • Gamification: Create a list of high value activities with associated points and generate some fun competitions.
  • Develop an associates marketing committee: This forum gives associates opportunities to deepen internal connections, share ideas, and implement initiatives where they can practice their skills and grow their networks.
  • Cascaded mentoring: Partners mentor senior associates, senior associates mentor mid-levels, and mid-levels mentor the newbies.

I’ve coached so many partners who wished they had learned rainmaking skills earlier in their careers. By intelligently investing in your associates now, you can help them learn how to create their nest egg of a solid book of business.

David H. Freeman, J.D. is a long-time PDC Trusted Advisor, a former practicing lawyer from New York, an award-winning consultant, and a two-time best-selling author who shows lawyers how to transform themselves into great rainmakers. He has written and co-authored fifteen books on law firm leadership and business development, he has trained and coached over 10,000 lawyers and leaders in over 200 law firms worldwide (nearly 50% of the Am Law 200), and he is a member of the National Law Journal Hall of Fame for being voted the top law firm business development coach and consultant in the U.S. for several consecutive years. He can be reached at and 310-773-7691.