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The Difference between Good Lawyers and Great Lawyers

Posted in Marketing Tips

Some professionals think it is enough to be a good lawyer. In fact, in my experience, some think that should be enough for clients to beat a path to their door. Unfortunately, that isn’t the real world. It simply isn’t enough today to be just a good lawyer.

Jim Durham, chief marketing officer at Ropes & Gray agrees. Jim is the author of The Essential Little Book of Great Lawyering. It really is little (about 50 pages), and is advertised as “a classic pocket book, meant to be read on a train ride home from work or on an airplane business trip.” You can get a copy from The Law Marketing Store for $11.95.

In Chapter 4, “Putting It All Together – A Summary of the Characteristics of Great Lawyers,” Jim has a number of examples of good vs. great lawyers. With his permission, the following are the gems from pages 39-41: (Italic emphasis mine)

“Good lawyers return phone calls reasonably promptly;

great lawyers are always available and accessible to their clients. Great lawyers don’t just respond when their phone rings, they make other people’s phones ring

“Good lawyers know the law;

great lawyers know the law, but they also know and understand the client’s business. Great lawyers know what makes the client successful and they understand the client’s preferred form of communication. 

“Good lawyers get the legal work done.

Great lawyers get the work done too, but they do it and give practical advice in the context of knowing the client’s business. 

“Good lawyers do legal work effectively and efficiently.

Great lawyers look for ways to make legal services more valuable to clients. Great lawyers give clients more than they pay for. 

“Good lawyers treat the client professionally.

Great lawyers personalize the relationship by recognizing the unique styles, interests, and needs of the individuals with whom they work. 

“Good lawyers do their best to keep promises about when work will be completed.

Great lawyers do what they say they will do, and get it done when they said they would. (In other words, good lawyers try to deliver, great lawyers DELIVER.) 

“Good lawyers are reasonably comfortable in most settings.

Great lawyers project confidence, but not arrogance, in any setting.

“Good lawyers attend meetings;

great lawyers arrive early-fully prepared. Good lawyers are present at meetings; great lawyers are a real presence in the meeting.

“Good lawyers are thought of as "capable," and are expected to do a good job.

Great lawyers own the client’s problem, and engender a belief that they will do everything possible to help the client succeed.

“Good lawyers care about clients.

Great lawyers are loyal to them. 

“Good lawyers accept feedback when clients offer it.

Great lawyers seek meaningful feedback from clients and act on it.”

Thanks, Jim.

  • Had a great review of “The Essential Little Book of Great Lawyering” in Canada last week (Lawyer’s Weekly), and in the blog At the Bar this past week….Thanks for being out front in changing the profession.

  • Abida ibrahim hassan

    “Great” with this. I’m fully convinced and interested in being a Great lawyer Abida ibrahim hassan