Looking behind the law

Personality is something you “feel” about, and the skill set is much more testable: questions like these

• Are you board certified?

• How many clients like us do you represent?

• How many have you represented in the last year?

• How much of what we need are you providing to other customers right now?

• How many in the past year?

Although finding the right attorney is an effort, finding one does not make a client there. It’s a fact that the attorney you choose will know the law and know what topics to dig into to help you move forward. What is not a fact is this: the attorney’s ability to look beyond your legal problem and question. What does that mean?

It means that the most experienced and valuable attorneys are those who not only fit your legal needs, but can ask questions and uncover issues that clients are not aware of, those who view their clients’ needs in a “360” way. “They don’t just look at the issue presented; they look ‘around’ the client to make sure they are well protected. They identify other issues the client never thought of. And they take a proactive role in advising and protecting the client, even when the customer wants to try to control the process, in essence they go from being a technician to being an essential advisor.

More particularly, these attorneys:

• Know what the law is and also how it applies in the client’s community;

• Recommend that other issues and needs of the client be addressed, including needs and issues that the attorney cannot personally address or satisfy, such as business compliance and insurance; Y

• Know what they don’t know and be sure to refer professionals who can meet that need.

Clients often don’t know what questions to ask. Sometimes customers think they know about problems, but they are wrong. And sometimes clients have had bad experiences with an attorney in the past and try to control the professional relationship. Lawyers often focus on what they do rather than what the client needs. And sometimes when a client tries to control the professional relationship for fear of fees or anything else, which can result in a breakdown of systems and processes based on the quality of the lawyer. The most effective attorneys will listen to clients, but also guide them. And the best customers will respect and value it.