Finding Gold as a Lawyer Takes a Miner’s Mentality

Let’s be honest, we all have our guilty pleasures on TV. For me, it’s a reality show called Gold Rush. You might find this a little sad or you may be impressed that I know more about gold mining than just about anyone. If you were to ask (and please don’t), I could find land, have the equipment built and direct a crew to pull this precious metal from the ground with significant confidence. Since I don’t have “gold-fever,” or the lower back for it, I think I’ll stick with my true passion, helping lawyers find their own gold in business development.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this article will demonstrate my academic knowledge of gold mining and how it directly relates to growing your law practice. Here are the three lessons to gold mining including, of course, your valuable takeaways.

Gold Mining Tip #1: Don’t just go where you think the gold is, always test the ground first.

When people think of gold, their minds immediately go to California, Colorado or Alaska as, historically, that is where gold has been found. The reality, though is that much of this previously fertile ground has already been “mined-out” or was barren from the start. A smart miner will drill test holes in a few different areas to see how much gold is really there before investing time, money and energy on a claim (piece of land).

In looking for new clients, it’s always best to go where you believe the business may be, with the added task of testing your options before going all in. For example, there may be a networking group you’ve had your eye on. To learn more, try calling the event host with some pointed questions or actually attending a “tester” event before committing to joining. Additionally, you may have been targeting specific referral sources that haven’t been panning out “pun intended,” so consider updating your approach or finding new referral sources that may be better aligned with your goals today. To ensure better results you must always have the mindset to be testing and learning, versus digging on the same barren piece of land.

Gold Mining Tip #2: Are you looking for nuggets or fine gold?

When most people think about gold mining, they have imagery of quarter-sized nuggets glimmering up from the gold pan. In reality, these nuggets are rare. Most of the gold that is mined is cleaned off the rocks and is fine like sand. When a miner puts together a sluice box (the gold trapping device), it must be clear as to which type of gold he/she is mining for. Otherwise, the miner will lose most of what there is to be caught.

In business development you must have clarity about the kinds of matters you should be focusing on bringing in. If producing million-dollar litigation matters is your thing, go after that. If ten-thousand-dollar transactional matters is more likely, keep your focus on those sized matters. If you do the work you love and do it well, your reputation and marketing efforts will bring you that big nugget you’ve been waiting for. In the meantime, go after the appropriate targets.

Gold Mining Tip #3: In gold mining, it’s all about the team.

Sound familiar? It’s one thing to find good land, and another to set up the right equipment. Without a strong team to support your efforts, it’s going to be an exercise in futility. In working the land for gold, you have many elements to manage including land, water, waste and equipment that all needs constant attention. Failure with the flow of water means your rocks aren’t cleaning off the gold. If the waste, or tailings, aren’t cleared, you’ll damage your equipment. The takeaway with this analogy is that the attention needed to run a successful mine simply cannot be overstated–or done alone.

If you’re serious about developing business, you now understand the importance of having a strong team surrounding you. Here are a few important tasks that must be delegated to successfully grow your legal business:

  • Remove as much administrative burden as you can. You must have a strong paralegal, personal assistant or virtual assistant to handle much of the non-legal work so you can focus on bringing in the business.
  • Utilize the most up-to-date software to automate anything and everything you can. Ask you assistant to help you accomplish this.
  • If you’re bringing in significant work be sure to delegate to the best associate or partner possible. Without proper delegation, you’re going to run out of hours. This will stall or stop your business development efforts in their tracks.
  • Outsource your marketing to your assistant, your marketing team or hire virtually. Again, it’s all about your time and staying out in front of people (even by Zoom).

Probably the best analogy I have is the importance of finding gold in the first place, mining it and then staying in the mine until you’ve recovered all that was available. No one in their right mind would find gold and never go back for the rest. Whether your gold is podcasting, blogging, networking, golfing with referral sources or leveraging your clients for quality introductions (the best), be sure to educate yourself on business development and marketing best practices to ensure ongoing success. The gold is there–now go and find it, mine it and improve how you capture it.

Please read my blog or listen to my podcast BE THAT LAWYER for more on business development tips at