Business Development


Business Development:

Didn't get the work? Now what?

OSBA Staff
Columbus, OH

Whether it’s a formal response to an RPF, a client pitch or a lead to a high-profile client’s new matter, it’s discouraging when you don’t get the work that you wanted. However, it’s important to take steps to figure out what went wrong so that you can succeed in the future.  

First, take a day to recover: read an enjoyable book, go for a walk or have dinner with friends. Find ways to rewind so that you can bounce back from disappointment.

Next, it is crucial to contact that person who said “no.” Although it may be tempting to send an email message, make the effort to pick up the phone and have a real conversation. In this conversation, confirm that the answer was really a “no.” Then, express that there are no hard feelings and that you respect their decision. Find out if someone else was given the work, and who it was, so that you know your competition. Next, ask if there’s anything you need to know to do a better job next time, and make sure they are aware that you are willing to help in any way in the future.

It is also imperative that you sit down with your peers, younger lawyers and staff who assisted with the pitch. This is an excellent time to show others how to handle disappointment. Discuss the client’s feedback, and ask what might have been done differently. Be sure to genuinely listen and encourage them to give personal, honest feedback.

Take what you learned from this experience and make any changes in systems or methods as needed. Find your next opportunity and try out what you’ve learned. These days, in private practice, you must learn how to go out and get the work. Making mistakes is the best way to get it right the next time around.

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