I think I’m supposed to link to articles like How to Build a Book of Business as a Young Lawyer and How Associates Can Blow the Business-Development Bell Curve.
Problem is, I don’t get anything out of them and I can’t pretend they’ll help anyone else, either. Work hard. Develop relationships. Be a good lawyer, particularly with regard to client contact.
Fact is, I don’t know of many successful lawyers who can explain, even in retrospect, their path from law school to "success." The tips above certainly help. Instinct, like knowing which clients are worth pursuing and which are not, helps. Luck helps. Your ‘position’ — e.g., the contacts you started with, the school you went to — helps.
At the end of the day, all the successful lawyers I know got there due to a mixture of luck, skill, position and dedication. You can’t change your luck or your current position. You can, however, strive for excellence, hone your instincts, and be ready to pounce on luck. Chance favors the prepared mind.
…which I guess is what the articles are saying, but they never admit it!