It’s not easy…..that’s for sure. Very rarely do folks talk to an attorney for a positive reason. We exist for the very opposite scenarios. Chances are that most of your clients have a problem that is affecting them physically, emotionally, or financially (three areas of the utmost concern). Coming to an attorney can be just as frightening as the problem itself.
It all comes down to the fear of the unknown. Put yourself in the client’s head for just a moment. Something unexpected and unwanted happened, now some dude or woman in a robe, who doesn’t know anyone involved, is going to make a decision that affects them for the rest of their lives. On top of all that, they are going to participate in a system that they have no clue about, and they are going to do so in the hopes that they walk out financially stable, with their kids still at home, or even a free person! Nothing new to us, right?
Make no mistake about it, this is the most stressful time of most client’s lives.
So, is it scary to talk to an attorney when these problems arise? You better believe it is!
So often, I have clients tell me that they walk into big stuffy law offices where people look and talk down upon them and act as if they are the ones doing the hiring. As a result, the client becomes more frightened, and begins to distrust the system even more than they did when they walked into that office. After all, “if these are the folks fighting for me, how will I ever stand a change against those who are fighting against me?”
Now, if you are an attorney with a stuffy office and a “snooty” staff that makes clients feel uncomfortable, you might be offended by this entry. Don’t be. I absolutely realize that this is often the perception that clients get no matter how nice you are to them….but that is why it is very important to think about how you will be perceived in every form of presentation.
What is the difference between a client and an attorney? That is a simple answer: a piece of paper for which we paid thousands of dollars. That’s it! All too often, we as attorneys forget what it’s like to be in trouble. Most of us have money in the bank, a successful business, and a picture-perfect family at home. It is important to remember that we are the exception and not the norm. At our core, we are problem solvers. We are trained to take that which ails our client and do our best to fix it. When we forget that, or begin to take clients for granted, it shows.
So, why am I on a soapbox right now? Honestly, I want this profession to be better. Learn and forget all you want on a daily basis, but don’t forget these four things:
1. Where you came from
2. YOU are the one giving service, not the other way around
3. That client who doesn’t seem too “smart” or “classy” is probably smarter and classier than you are in certain situations.
4. Talk to clients the way you would like to be talked to in times of stress (picture a cancer diagnosis with physician and how you would want that doctor to speak).