Oct 21 / Jon Hocker

Meet the contributor- Scott Simmons

Meet Scott is a toolbox for turning lawyers into rainmakers.
After a successful career in law where he faced similar situations to the lawyers of today, he discovered a love of coaching and training that has seen him coaching young lawyers on how to build their own careers, and more senior executives to become rainmakers. 
He offers bespoke training, coaching and leadership courses to legal professionals at all stages of their career and developed The BD Breakthrough Blueprint, a two-day training course, to facilitate this, which will soon be available to buy as a digital format.
Scott has spent the last 10 years coaching and training lawyers, and regularly writes and speaks on the subject of legal services business development.
Scott is a husband and father and an avid film lover, so do not be surprised when he includes a BD analogy relating to ‘Jaws’ or ‘When Harry Met Sally’ into any training or coaching session.    

While contributing his courses for the site (access his courses here), we took the opportunity to get her perspective on some of the burning questions around the legal sector and professional development.  

Read on as he shares why he loves the legal industry, how he has learnt from his mistakes and what he would like to change about the legal industry.  

Do you have a favourite failure? Something that didn’t go so well at the time, but has actually benefited you in the long-run? 
I fail regularly. I get things wrong a lot. I believe it’s really important to fail because failure teaches you more about yourself than success does. Life is all about iteration: learning what went well and taking that forward, and learning what didn’t go well and making changes. Failure isn’t final and we shouldn’t think of it as a bad thing; it’s all part of the journey to get better and better.

If you could go back to the beginning of your legal career, what’s the top piece of advice you would give yourself?

I know this might sound cliché, but I’d tell myself to find law firms that fitted my values and personality - the ‘Be yourself’ mantra.
I tried so hard early in my career to try to fit into an idea of what I thought a lawyer should be, and it just wasn’t who I was or am. It made me uncomfortable and unhappy. I want to get to know my clients on a deeper level because that’s how I believe I can help them best. As a young lawyer, I thought I had to keep my distance and shower clients with legal jargon. In my first legal job, I was fortunate to work with a mentor who told me that getting to know clients was important, so I was really happy there. As I went on in my career and worked at different firms, it seemed the opposite was true and it felt as though my first job was an anomaly. I was never as happy as a lawyer as I was in my first job.
I realise now the choices I made to move along my legal career weren’t made with who I was as a person in mind.
There are so many options out there for lawyers, and law firms that will fit with who you are as a person. This should go to the top of the list of priorities because, in the end, it will be what makes you happiest.

If you could change anything about the legal industry, what would it be?

Get. Rid. Of. The. Billable. Hour.
It is a disaster for lawyers, for clients, for lawyer-client relationships, and for the legal profession as a whole.
It creates terrible habits and practices; it focuses lawyers on the wrong things; it doesn’t make clients happy; and it’s not good for lawyers’ mental wellbeing.
As customers, lawyers wouldn’t accept paying by the hour anywhere else, so why should our customers accept it?
For me, the billable hour is the root of every problem the legal profession has. Replace it and so many other aspects will improve.
What advice would you give to legal professionals looking to further their career?

The lawyer of the 21st century is a rainmaker. Rainmakers win work – for themselves and others. It’s what makes a lawyer a true trusted advisor.
AI is here and it is going to do the work that, traditionally, lawyers have considered their own: document drafting and researching.
Lawyers have to get back to being trusted advisors: spending time with clients and using what AI produces to give clients the best possible advice and outcomes.
AI is a tool that can help us get there, but we have to embrace it and use it to enhance our relationships with clients and get back to being advisors.

What have you done in your career that has made the biggest difference?

What I do now makes the most impact and a huge difference to the lawyers I work with and teach. I am passionate about what I do and believe that any lawyer can be a rainmaker. With the digital version of my sales training course I have the ability to reach more lawyers than by doing it one-on-one or in small groups. The course, The BD Breakthrough Blueprint™, is available soon and, hopefully, that will reach a wider audience of lawyers that will have a bigger impact and help more lawyers become rainmakers.  

Read more of Scott's course content here.