Business Development Leveraging Growth Opportunities

It’s Time to Get 'Cross' with Your Lawyers

Your lawyers are leaving tons of money on the table, and you’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

David H. Freeman, JD

OK — maybe you’re not that upset, but it is time to get cross with them. It’s time to get them more engaged in cross-selling other services of the firm. It’s time to get your point across that cross-selling is good for the firm, good for individual lawyers and good for clients. It’s time to scratch out the word “selling” and replace it with “serving” to change the vibe from pushy sales to helpful service. It’s time to mark “someday we’ll increase the number of practices our clients use” off your to-do list.

As a firm leader, it’s your job to get your lawyers to move from “maybe” to “definitely.” One way to drive desired behavior is by establishing the right measures. And when it comes to cross-serving, while there are dozens of factors underlying the process, we can boil it down to three main measures: 

  1. More meetings between firm lawyers to discuss cross-opportunities
  2. More meetings with clients to introduce cross-serving opportunities
  3. Times you keep the newly introduced practices top-of-mind with those clients 

Let’s dive in to explore these three areas further.


If we’re looking for a first domino, it’s getting your lawyers together to begin exploring what cross-opportunities exist, and how they can finesse getting those opportunities in front of firm clients. As a leader, you can do several things to facilitate this process: 

  • Develop a spreadsheet listing clients that may have other work your firm can do. The first column contains the name of the client, and the following columns list the firm’s practice areas. In each row, list your targeted clients, and fill in practices where you already do work, (e.g., use a color code like green). For areas you want to pursue, fill that cell with another color (e.g., gold), and if you absolutely know there is no opportunity in other areas, perhaps fill that cell in black.
  • Send this chart to the relationship partners to get their input; however, do not rely solely on their opinion because they may lack insights into ways other practices can serve that client.
  • Circulate it among lawyers in other practices to get a fuller sense of the possible.
  • Once you’ve identified new practices, bring the relationship lawyers together with the right lawyers in the other practices to brainstorm how to make the approach.
  • Measure how many times your lawyers get together for these types of internal meetings.


Once the strategy is set for how to approach the client, play the role of “watcher” by reminding lawyers to schedule meetings with their clients. Ask them to report back to you on when they schedule those meetings and when they conduct them. This step is where the rubber meets the road.

“If we’re looking for a first domino, it’s getting your lawyers together to begin exploring what cross-opportunities exist, and how they can finesse getting those opportunities in front of firm clients.”

Also help your lawyers by giving them a template/worksheet for how to get and conduct those meetings. Some elements of a good meeting include coming up with reasons why the client would agree to the meeting, developing rapport and asking probing questions to learn about their needs. Lawyers can then go deeper into the pain points they identify, share success stories and suggest next steps.

As with internal meetings, measure how many meetings are scheduled and how many occur.


Lawyers are often seduced by the phrase of “we’ll keep you in mind,” when in fact — especially for a new area — they are often forgotten shortly after the meeting. Lawyers with a rainmaker’s mindset understand it’s not the client’s job to remember them — rather, it’s the lawyer’s job to stay remembered.

It’s up to the lawyer offering the new service to be proactive and follow up in ways that will be welcomed by the client. There are several elements to consider when coaching your lawyers to stay top-of-mind: 

  • Your lawyers should ask themselves if they were hired to watch for and notify the client of things they need to know, what would they communicate?
  • To simplify the process, think of two types of outreach — mass and personalized. The mass version is putting the client on lists to receive emails, alerts, invitations, etc., in areas they care about. To set this up, during the meeting with the client, the lawyer seeking work in a new area might say something like, “From time to time, we create alerts and put on webinars on (insert subject here), would you like us to include you on those lists?”
  • A personalized, one-to-one approach could be to reach out to targeted clients and offer to conduct an in-house presentation, invite them to webinars or interview them for an article or podcast.

We all know the maxim: What gets measured gets managed and what gets managed gets done. By finding the right measures to drive desired behaviors, and managing your lawyers to achieve those measures, you can be cross in ways that your lawyers and clients will welcome and appreciate.

Don’t miss David Freeman’s appearance on Legal Management Talk, where he discusses cross-serving and other important aspects of business development. Watch it on YouTube or download it wherever you get your podcasts.