Lana Manganiello: Building a Fulfilling Career Based on Choice

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Lana Manganiello discuss:

  • Why business development matters as an attorney.
  • Control and how it makes or breaks your career.
  • Tips to keep your business development going even while you’re busy.
  • Business development can be as formal or as informal as you make it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Business development gives you control over who you work with and what matters you work on.
  • Take a moment to look at the bigger picture and look at the value that you provide. What you do is more interesting than you may think.
  • Hyperfocus on what type of work that you want to do more of and go after that specifically.
  • The key to business development is intentionality, no matter how you choose to do it.

“Business development is the key to career fulfillment in the legal profession.” —  Lana Manganiello

Connect with Lana Manganiello:




Connect with Steve Fretzin:

LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.



Book: The Ambitious Attorney: Your Guide to Doubling or Even Tripling Your Book of Business and more!

YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.



people, lawyers, clients, business, attorneys, development, steve, group, facilitate, structure, spend, bd, relationships, informality, job, hear, career, formality, formal, helping


Narrator, Lana Manganiello, Steve Fretzin


Lana Manganiello  [00:00]

I think business development can become overwhelming if you’re always trying to think of what you need to do. So having a plan, you know, you spend the time to think about it, you write it down, and then we’re just executing. It makes it a lot less overwhelming.


Narrator  [00:20]

You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.


Steve Fretzin  [00:43]

Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I am Steve Fretzin. As announcer just mentioned, if you’ve heard this show a bunch of times you’re probably sick of me telling you that I’m me and that the announcer says my name, but that is what’s going on. So I hope you’re having a terrific day. I hope you’re ready to hear some really good BD talk today is Dev sales. Everybody okay with the word sales, okay. I don’t know. But we’re going to talk about it because lawyers need to incorporate business development, marketing branding into their law practices will why? Well, that’s gonna be the topic of our show today. I’ve got a terrific guest. She does what I do in different ways, but we’re both fans of each other. And we’re going to talk about BD and get into the weeds with it today. We’re gonna destroy her name, no matter how many times she helped me not destroyed. It’s Lana Manolo. Mangan. Hello. All right, to try no one. I just am terrible. With last names. It could be Smith, I call it Smyth to catch a break. Anyway. Really appreciate you being on the show. How’s your day going so far? Good, Steve. Thanks for having me. Yeah, it’s my pleasure. And, you know, obviously, we’d love to hear a little bit more about your background, just to share with my audience, what makes you an expert on legal business development, give us the 411 on that. Sure.


Lana Manganiello  [01:59]

So I have spent the entirety of my career in sales and business development. I started in insurance and financial services and had my own practice, and then moved into management and leadership within the financial services space. I helping financial advisors with their business development and positioning in the market. And then I went on to work in other professional service firms running marketing departments for construction, design, build firm, and a education technology firm. And then over the last three years, I have devoted my practice to working with lawyers on business development and marketing. And I really, truly believe that business development is the key to career fulfillment in the legal profession. And I love what I do.


Steve Fretzin  [02:53]

Yeah, that’s it. Me too. And let me ask you, why do you enjoy working with lawyers? What about lawyers is unique, fun, interesting, maybe more so than other groups you’ve worked with?


Lana Manganiello  [03:04]

Yeah, I think I love working with true experts and specialists, people who have something truly valuable and unique to bring to the marketplace. And you know, I’ve done true traditional sales. And so I feel like lawyers just need to educate the right people on when to think of them and for what and so it’s a lot more fun for me to bring some skills and techniques to these professionals who are truly, you know, helping their clients in a valuable way. So, you know, and also lawyers are generally smart. And that’s also fun for me to work with smart people


Steve Fretzin  [03:47]

kind of let me take it a different direction. What’s the worst sales job you’ve ever had?


Lana Manganiello  [03:51]

selling life insurance is pretty crappy.


Steve Fretzin  [03:57]

Laws. Everyone wants to talk about death and there are pending death, right?


Lana Manganiello  [04:01]

I actually don’t mind that part. I like I like to get real with people. It’s just, you know, begging people to do what’s in their own best interest. Yeah, gets old.


Steve Fretzin  [04:13]

I had a job one summer where I had to go around and sell door to door designer like fake perfume like cologne and perfume like not polo and not name brand stuff like the knockoffs that were half the price or whatever. And I had to go into commercial businesses. Someone actually called me a carpet bagger. And I was like, Yeah, you nailed that.


Lana Manganiello  [04:33]

That’s exactly amazing. I’ve never even heard of that job.


Steve Fretzin  [04:36]

It was the worst I lasted two days because by the way, this was in the middle of a Chicago winter. I was going door to door outside carrying this Box of Crap around door to door so if anybody thinks that they have a problem with BD is a lawyer, you can just think about having at least you’re not having to go out and sell door to door fake perfume or cologne because that’s the worst. There you have it.


Lana Manganiello  [04:57]

I know. I think most people’s detriment They have not had like truly terrible sales jobs so that, you know, they don’t have the perspective of how easy it seemed the suggestions that we’re making and how much more fun. You know, they have it than some of these other people that need to be slinging things that no one wants.


Steve Fretzin  [05:19]

Yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun to find, like, if there’s an attorney that says, Yeah, you know, before I was an attorney, or before that career, I sold this, or I sold that or I ran a business right to go out and market like, I don’t know, it just gets a whole different perspective and about business development than someone who’s really never had to do it. But anyway, that could be a segue to our dialogue, which is, you know, why does business development matter? Why should it matter to attorneys, their job is to practice the law to be very, you know, solution driven for their clients and provide great service. So why BD why is that important?


Lana Manganiello  [05:53]

Yeah, I’d love to hear your take on this. I mean, I think that business development and having some control over who your clients are, and what matters you’re working on, just innately makes sense that you would choose something that you enjoy. So, you know, I think that having some control over your practice by being intentional and purposeful about the types of clients and matters that you’re bringing on, you know, leads to fulfillment and enjoyment. And, you know, being able, again, most of us are in relationship businesses. So, business development is about building relationships. And if you’re picking people that you enjoy getting to know, and they’re like minded, again, this is another thing that should make your work that much more enjoyable. So, you know, I think that it just makes things a lot more fun when you’re the one steering the ship versus just waiting for files to be handed to you.


Steve Fretzin  [07:02]

Yeah, can you and you started the answer by saying you wanted to hear my take on it. But then you stole every possible answer that I can give, right control freedom, you know, directing your, you know, building the relationships, all that stuff. So I think you’re spot on the money with that answer. And it’s hard for lawyers, I think, to understand, until things slow down until a recession happens until, you know, their hours start to get caught in, then they start to go, oh, oh, wait a second, this is not good. What am I going to do to get my next file? What am I going to do to get to my, you know, X number of hours this month, and that, you know, or their partner leaves the one who’s feeding them. So it’s that lack of control. That is the definition of what’s going to make or break someone’s career. And I can’t tell you how many lawyers come to me because of those situations, or they’re in house and they get let go, and now they’ve got to hang a shingle or try to find a job, no book of business at all. And then, you know, it’s like, hey, they gotta work from the ground up?


Lana Manganiello  [08:04]

Well, I think there’s a flip side of that, too, which is, you know, there’s plenty of attorneys, maybe there earlier in their career that have endless hours, and they just get burnt out, because they’re working on things that are not interesting to them. And they’re working with people that they don’t enjoy. So, you know, maybe you’re not working with them because they’re exiting the profession. Because if you don’t feel like you, I mean, I talked to way too many people who are like, I’m not interested in growing, because I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore. And I think there’s so much you can do with a JD, that, you know, it’s not often that I’m running into people who fully explored exactly how they can have a law practice and, you know, explored what is important to them, and what’s interesting to them, and seeing if they can kind of change gears as lawyers to find something that’s much more fulfilling. And that’s just been my experience with on the burnout side of things. You know, they may not be hungry for more work, but they they’re finding that they are not interested in the work that they’re doing.


Steve Fretzin  [09:21]

Yeah, I mean, I get what you’re saying, you know, it’s really about at the end of the day, what do you enjoy doing? How do you want to spend your time? Is this a fulfilling career because anybody could get a job. It’s about what are you getting out of your career? So every day I don’t know how you feel. But every day I get up, and I’m just I’m jazzed, I just want to get out I want to do a podcast. I want to meet with my client and help them I want to run a class. I want to facilitate a rainmaker roundtable I want to bring in a great guest that everyone appreciates, like I love the creative side of it and the solving and helping people develop careers like that’s what I you know, how you work into it is a different story. worry. But I just think that if you’re a lawyer, and you’re not feeling that way, every day, you’re just kind of getting up and it’s a grind, and it’s nonstop. And then you get home, you can’t even like, deal with your kids, because you’re just your brain is, you know, slosh. So how do people get out of a job and get into a career and business development might be a part of that. But what are some of the things that you think of when you think of like what a lawyer needs to do to be happy?


Lana Manganiello  [10:24]

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s kind of a tall order to expect that we’re all going to be leaping out of bed, you know, ready to take on the day, because we’re so excited about every element of our jobs. But I think part of this is figuring out kind of the bigger picture. And I find with lawyers, they get stuck in the granular and the minutiae of what they do. And it’s so often that I have to explain to them, you know, what you do actually is really interesting, because, you know, they’ll say things like, I’m always looking for opportunities to market, the professionals that I work with. So you know, if we’re putting together presentations, or article topics, and they’re like, I don’t do anything that interesting. And I’m like, Well, you’re a personal injury attorney, and then they’ll go through what cases they’re working on, and all this crazy stuff, or they’re, you know, probate litigator, and it’s like, you know, just crazy, crazy stuff, that’s very interesting. But because they’re working on all the small stuff, they kind of lose sight of the value that they’re bringing to their clients, and just to the profession in general. So I think, part of finding fulfillment is, you know, taking a beat to look at the bigger picture and really assess the value that you provide. And I think, you know, if you have that kind of in the back of your mind, and you’re regularly checking in on kind of, are you still moving in the direction that you want to be, you know, because you care about elder abuse, and, you know, you and I are like, we want lawyers to actually be happy, you know, so that’s about always at the forefront of our mind, every time we’re answering an email, or you know, jumping on the phone, but when things get especially sucky, it’s nice to have kind of this, why to fall back on and keep you just in the grind.


Steve Fretzin  [12:22]

Yeah, and I don’t know if this is, if you’re finding this was some of your clients, but lately, because of, I don’t know, the environment, the economy, could be to some degree, my coaching, I’m not gonna put that on the forefront. But lawyers that I’m working with have never been busier, I mean, they are getting more work than they can handle. And one thing that I’ve had to really focus on his time management and trying to help them maneuver through how to keep the BD the bizdev, going the marketing arm going, while they’re busy. And I thought it’d be useful for you and I had to come up with, you know, three to four to five sort of tips or ideas that we can share so that the people listening can say, you know, what, I’m that person, I’m busy. And I’m, you know, working on your billing like mad person. And, you know, I’d love to figure out some ways to be able to get more balance. So I’ll let you start. Or if you want, I can start. But I think let’s go through and just list off some things that we talk to our clients about, in order to help them kind of have that balance or deal with how busy they are.


Lana Manganiello  [13:24]

Yeah, yeah. And I’m definitely seeing the same thing as far as workload increasing, which is so crazy, because most of us have stopped doing a lot of things, I don’t think, well, I know, in California, you know, we’re not really driving all that much anymore. So I don’t know how we’re going to add back some of these things. I mean, I know my day has never been busier. And I’m doing I’ve cut out a lot of pre pandemic stuff. So I think this is definitely a worthwhile thing to talk about, because I think it applies to most people. So I mean, I think the first thing is always and I’m sure this is how you approach your clients as well is getting super clear on the kind of work that you want more of picking matters or vertical markets that you really want to focus on from a business development perspective, things that, you know, if these matters came in the door for the next 12 months, you would be elated. And it seems so basic, but it’s something that we all need to continuously revisit. I mean, I do in my own personal business development needs to do this regularly. And I find that all of my clients generally need to kind of revisit what their focus on focus from a business development perspective is going to be for the next 12 months.


Steve Fretzin  [14:50]

Okay, so is that in the formal written plan or how is that laid out?


Lana Manganiello  [14:55]

I mean, yes, I generally, you know, suggest that people write down on that type of work that they want more of an you know, there’s lots of ways to categorize that. But I think the more narrow, the better and the easier to execute, especially when we’re limited for time, you know, the idea of going to anything that’s generic or general anymore, I just don’t think we have bandwidth or desire for that anymore. So being hyper focused on the types of cases or clients that would be ideal, and kind of shoot for those is probably the most valuable way to use your time. And so yes, I generally, you know, focus and then figure out, you know, who is the target audience for this? How do we educate this audience around this specific area, that you’re focused on coming up with ideas to either on thought leadership or other ways to raise visibility, and then ultimately figuring out who are the individuals that we need to be focused on fostering relationships with? And how do we stay top of mind with those people?


Steve Fretzin  [16:08]

Okay, so it’s being hyper focused on who your target is, in the area of law you want to work. And I would add to that, then sort of tip number two, which goes right along the lines is, you know, to have that written plan. And if you’re wondering, how do I write a plan, it isn’t very difficult. I do those two, three times a week with my clients, especially new clients. And I’ll give you the simplest version, and then all of its available on my blog, you know, as far as like how to write a plan, but you know, you come up with what your objective is, what are you looking to accomplish for the year, could be dollars, could be number of clients could be that hyper targeting, break it down into the strategies? Where are those targets? How are you going to get to them, and pick two or three, business development, marketing or combination of how you’re going to spend your time. So it’s not doing 100 things, or 10 things, it’s doing two or three things, okay, attending a networking group or posting on LinkedIn, could be leveraging your existing clients for quality introductions, and then break it down into tactical actionable things that you need to do every day, every week, and give yourself you know, time blocking, and all the things that can happen with your calendar. And that’s the simplest version of how to write a plan in two or three pages. And just work from macro to micro. But that’s take what Lana said, and it’s going to put a big emphasis on it, because then that focus is now in writing, it’s now in front of you. And that elite, it’s like a GPS, right? A GPS tells you where to go. And you just follow the GPS and listen to yourself and do what it says. And then you should be, you know, moving in the right direction. Anything to answer that, Lana?


Lana Manganiello  [17:45]

No, I’m in total agreement. I mean, I think business development can become overwhelming, if you’re always trying to think of what you need to do. So having a plan, you know, you spend the time to think about it, you write it down, and then we’re just executing, it makes it a lot less overwhelming. So I’m in total agreement.


Steve Fretzin  [18:06]

I was gonna say just winging, it’s not a strategy. You know, that’s what everyone’s doing. Really, I mean, 90 plus percent of the attorneys. They’re just doing what they do. They’re winging it, and they’re going about it. And there’s no focus, it might be in their head that there’s a focus, but it’s not laid out in a way that they’re going to be able to get real true as much traction as maybe they could, if it was written out. It’s like the difference between me tossing your compass and saying go east, right, and you end up where you end up or giving you that high power GPS, it’s gonna get you where you want to go.


Lana Manganiello  [18:34]

Exactly, yeah. Because I mean, I talked to plenty of people, their marketing is working, but then I look at what they’re doing. And they’ve spent so much time and energy. And, you know, if you put energy into anything, you’ll get something out of it. But because I can see that it’s the shotgun approach, and they’re doing so much I can see, you know, they’ve hit a plateau, and there’s a lot of spinning wheels. And then there’s a flipside of that, where people just don’t do anything. So I definitely am a proponent of written out plan.


Steve Fretzin  [19:07]

And then what would be another tip for busy attorneys to try to cut through it, you know, get that balance. Yeah, I


Lana Manganiello  [19:14]

think, like I was saying kind of these generic networking events and groups are going, you know, a lot of us just don’t have time to make those work. And I think there is a huge opportunity in being more proactive and curating your own groups. And so, you know, a lot of my clients are having success kind of creating their own. I don’t know if


Steve Fretzin  [19:44]

there’s like networking groups, right. I mean, like they’re setting up their own, like


Lana Manganiello  [19:48]

without it being necessarily so formal, but you know, if they’re interested in replicating, you know, their to a plus clients You know, we look at exactly who those people are, and what did those people need, you know, outside of the legal work that we’re doing for them? Who would they be interested in getting to know what topics are they interested in and putting together, you know, small groups of six to 810 people that would all benefit in knowing one another and have something in common and facilitating those conversations, I think that is time well spent in figuring all of that out. And spending money. You know, as we get back together in person, you know, I think that those types of events are going to yield the best results and make you much more memorable and valuable to the people in your network.


Steve Fretzin  [20:47]

You know, I can give a little more structure to that I actually been running a group for around three or four years now. And what it is, it’s a four or five of my strongest strategic partners that all work in legal. So I have a financial planner, who works mainly with lawyers, I have a guy who houses lawyers in virtual space, and real space, but he has like eight buildings in Chicago that he houses attorneys in, you know, three or four other people and we get together every month for an hour. That’s what it’s been, since we’ve been on Zoom, as we’ve been doing this whole event once a month for an hour, and each of us invites a lawyer in a different practice area to join us. So we end up with about 12 people in a one hour meeting, that I that is structured, I’m a crazy person for structure. Anyone that knows me knows, I’m like, I can’t wing anything, everything’s got to be a process a structure, because I just can’t handle inefficiency. It doesn’t work for me. So we go around. And we all take maybe two or three minutes to share more about our businesses, what we do, how we help people who are looking to meet, everybody goes around, we got about 20 minutes left at the end after we go through that first round. And then we all share who we think we can help. Who do we have a connection for? Who can we help? So you’re everyone’s walking away with getting to know new people they’ve never met before? Some they do. Some they don’t. And they’re walking away potentially with some context that are looking to help pay it forward that are looking to be proactive and helping others. And everybody does that. In an hour, we’re getting such value in actual business, that people just are shocked. They can’t believe that they spent an hour. And they’re walking away with two or three quality contacts, and maybe even some possible introductions. And so that’s how, you know, potentially easy it can be to get your own group together your own networking group, and not having to join me, we’re improvisers. And that’s wonderful. And we do that. But if you want to set up your own shop and run something that can be really high level, then that’s just one example of I’m sure hundreds that are out there. But I’ve been doing that very successfully for many years.


Lana Manganiello  [22:53]

Yeah, well, I’m glad to hear that. And I’ve seen many variations on that. And I think you know, what you’re doing is a little more formal, and may take some work on your part that not everyone has the capacity for, you know, I have a client that does a monthly lunch at his house outside. And he has had a ton of success with that. And you know, now we’re theming the lunches. And so, you know, he’ll bring together people that are in the entertainment business, so business managers, attorneys, you know, on the transactional side, or litigation side agents, and it’s really informal. And you know, instead of being super specific about like, oh, I need to introduce Alan and Steve and kind of the pressure of putting two people together, it’s a little bit more informal, where, you know, Alan and Steve are invited, and so are seven other people. And ultimately, you know, it’s six people sitting around the table that all work in the same space. And so, you know, now’s an interesting time as we kind of reenter, you know, this business development world and getting back together professionally. And so I think people really enjoy the informality of that group specifically, especially because they’re those people that are not super focused on business development, like you and I, and maybe the people that you’re inviting to your event. So just getting together regularly is kind of facilitating exactly what they need kind of similar. It’s kind of the pro visors method of, you know, if I see you enough times and years beaten up times, or you know, Troika with you, eventually you and I will develop a relationship but doing it in a way that’s more specific because I know you’re working with the types of people that I want to work with. So


Steve Fretzin  [24:48]

you’re gonna do very well in California, because that my experience is dealing with people in California and by the way, I’ve got some great relationships there is that informality and that you know loosey goosey He method and style it seems to work in relationships get built on, on those conversations and that lack of formality I just found, and I know if this is an East Coast or Midwest thing, but just for me and for the people that I interact with in the Midwest, like, we want to get down to it, like we want structure, we want it formal, we want to get, make sure that every minute that we have is useful. Not everybody, but I’m saying in a general form, I’ve been out here a long time. So I think maybe based on you know, to some degree, that part of the country, or what you’re into, and how you are built could impact the type of group that you set up and how you wanted to work. And so I think, you know, it’s it’s different strokes for different folks, if you will. Yeah, I


Lana Manganiello  [25:39]

definitely think there’s always value in building relationships and friendships. Sure, that depends on kind of, if you’re, I think you should have a friendship with referral partners in general.


Steve Fretzin  [25:54]

And I’m not suggesting you don’t have friendships or make friendships, when you have structure. I think it’s just there’s different ways to build relationships and best different ways to run groups and facilitate. In some instances, like, for example, this Friday, with my providers group here, in the Chicagoland area, we’re having our first in person, I have zero structure for this, it’s 20 people getting together for tacos and beer. And I’m going to let everybody just be and I’m going to go and I’m going to mingle with everybody. In some cases, the first time I’m seeing them face to face. And then there’s other scenarios where I wouldn’t like in my actual providers meeting that I run, like, I’m a director, I direct I conduct and I need it to be facilitated in such a way that everyone walks away from that meeting, saying, I got value. And this was useful, the useful time for me. So I think you just have to kind of know your audience and know, maybe geographically what people are into and what people you know what works for you. Right?


Lana Manganiello  [26:50]

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think I recently read pariah Parker’s book, The Art of gathering. And I think, you know, she talks about starting with the outcome in mind, as far as why are you getting together in the first place? So I think if that is kind of directing you in your formalities, it makes a ton of sense, you know, so if the purpose is to build rapport with your pro advisors, you know, group members, then it shouldn’t be super formal, but if the purpose is to really understand what they do for a living, you know, then it requires more formality. So I think, you know, we should have varied meetings. And, and I think the key to all of this is being intentional. You know, I think throwing people together and hoping things result in some value for the people that show up is not cutting it anymore. At least I’m not interested in those types of gatherings.


Steve Fretzin  [27:56]

Yeah. Mallanna. We’ve got to wrap up, but I just you know, I appreciate you being on the show and kind of going back and forth with me a little Dueling Banjos, if you will on BD for lawyers. How do people get in touch with you if they’re interested in hearing more about what you do?


Lana Manganiello  [28:09]

Sure. Email me at L Ming Anello at Equinox or connect with me on LinkedIn laundering Anello and I’m happy to connect.


Steve Fretzin  [28:21]

Yeah, we’ll put that in the show notes as well. So if anybody’s interested, you could just look below and see Lana’s information. Again, thanks for being on the show. And thanks for sharing your wisdom and kind of playing along with me in my this is an informal, I mean, not being formal in our discussion. So I guess I can turn it off. It’s just not easy.


Lana Manganiello  [28:41]

And I’m sure all of your clients and I, you know, being one of those people in your informal networking group, I appreciate your formality and structure. So you know, I’m definitely not saying that there isn’t value in that. And even in the informal meetings, there’s gonna be some kind of formality to it, to really get the most out of it. But this has been super fun. Steve, I really appreciate you having me on.


Steve Fretzin  [29:03]

Ya know, the pleasure is all mine. You know, we’ll talk again soon in our informal networking group that you mentioned. But listen, everybody thanks for listening to the show and for spending some of your valuable time with me and Lana today. And again, the goal is always to be that lawyer someone who is confident organized in a skilled Rainmaker. Hey, take care be safe be well, we’ll talk to you again soon.


Narrator  [29:29]

Thanks for listening to be that lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes