That is really the question that David Maister’s article “Do You Really Want Relationships?” is asking, at least that’s my take. I ran across the link to his article on Gerry Riskin’s Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices blog. The article is well worth reading in its entirety as David is always engaging in his writings and seminars.
Gerry highlights one aspect of the question in his post “Do you want romance or a one night stand?” He lists five of Maister’s examples of “client as enemy” behaviors, such as:
*Focusing on selling the client rather than starting a dialogue,
*Avoiding talking with the client since you may lose control or have to treat the client like a person,
*Failing to contact the client to just chat or share non-matter related information,
*Trying to sell more work, rather than serve the client, and
*Formalizing agreements and decisions, rather than trusting each other.
I am not sure all of the above qualify as “enemy” focused behavior, but clearly they do support the argument that the relationship is not one between friends. And, as I have stated before, if your legal marketing approach is focused on developing long term client relationships based on mutual respect and trust, then you should be trying to develop relationships that are also based on friendship.