Business Development Tips for Junior Lawyers

  • February 03, 2022
  • Zara Wong

Networking is not my favourite activity. I get anxious thinking about entering a large room filled with people I don’t know. If you’re like me and the thought of approaching and making small talk with strangers rapidly increases your heart rate, I am here to assure you that traditional “networking” isn’t the only way to grow your business connections. Here are a few things that have worked for me in developing my own book of business. 

Delivering Public Legal Education

Not only is delivering public legal education a great way to give back to your community, but it is also a potential way of generating business. Look for calls for volunteers from the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). For example, the OBA partners with local libraries all across the province to host free presentations about making wills for “Make a Will Month” every November. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to share your expertise with the public, or make your own opportunities. Sign up for OBA's Speakers Bureau and reach out to public libraries, community centres, community organizations and student groups, and ask if you can make a free presentation on a legal topic or issue geared towards that particular audience. And don’t forget your business cards—you never know when someone in your audience (or their friend or family member) will need a lawyer and call you up.

Getting Involved in Events with the Bar

A lot of new files come in as referrals from other lawyers, so it’s important to grow your network and meet new industry contacts. Since the pandemic has prevented us from gathering in social settings, most of my interactions with other lawyers are either through being on opposite sides of files or through my involvement as member-at-large with the OBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD). When the YLD chairs CPD programs, we always look for speakers to join the program faculty. If you see an upcoming program that you would like to present on, reach out to the OBA section(s) and/or the person(s) chairing the program. It is a great way to meet other lawyers and share your knowledge and expertise. The other panelists, program chairs, and even audience members may think of you the next time they need to refer a file to an expert in that particular area of law. The more you put your name out there, the more likely that other lawyers will think of you when referring files.