When a lawyer meets a potential client, in fairly short order rainmaking lawyers think about how to meet that potential client again, about how to plan encounters and endeavors that will start a courtship process. For the purposes of discussing client courtship, I will presume you are capable of doing the client’s work.
It is acceptable to be forthright, to simply call and say you want to know what the client’s legal needs are and how they are currently being satisfied. However, if your relationship is one of mere acquaintance, that is unlikely to work and may backfire, especially with clients who are happy with their current representation.
It is more likely you will get work from a new client if you engage someone personally, if you offer an experience you suspect or know the client or its representative especially like. Take your time and be thoughtful. If everyone accepts that a courtship has begun, the next event need not be subtle. I was once advising a lawyer seeking a particular client to invite the person, who was a serious football fan, to an important game for which the lawyer had access to tickets. He told me that he feared this person, for whom he did not feel any personal warmth, would think the lawyer was trying to be his friend. I pointed out that they barely knew each other and it was unlikely the potential client would think he was trying to be his friend. The client would, and should, think the lawyer offering the experience of a crucial football game was trying to be his lawyer.
A client who had resisted meeting a lawyer for months was led to a dining table with a lawyer who wanted to spend time with him because the table at which they dined was one at a small gathering with a former CIA Director.
More ordinary things also work – fishing trips, hiking expeditions, dinners and lunches. If a client does not want you to pitch being his lawyer, try pitching being his supplier. Theater and sports events as well as lunches and dinners are not illegal drugs. Such events are usually tax deductible and the worst thing that happens is you have fun and may, in fact, make a friend.