Not every client is a company or entity that has in-house counsel. Smaller companies often do not have a lawyer on staff. So, when I visited InHouseBlog and read a post about one in-house counsel’s “Ten Commandments“, I thought that those directives could be applicable to all clients, including individuals.
Here are the first 5 of the ten Commandments, and you judge which would also apply to an individual client or a company without in-house counsel:
- Understand their business and goals. Nine years ago I wrote a post about how important it was for lawyers to know the client’s business. In fact, it has been shown to be a client pet peeve according to surveys. The same can be said for knowing all you can about an individual’s goals relating to why they retained your services in the first place;
- Communicate succinctly. “Think PowerPoint, not Word. Use pictures.” In other words don’t burden clients with too much information, but rather a summary that can be easily understood by them and, in the case of in-house counsel, senior management;
- Don’t waffle. Or give them choices in order for you to avoid making a decision based on your expertise. After all that is why clients hire you. There are times to provide clients with alternatives, but not for CYA reasons;
- Be practical. That doesn’t mean that your decision can not be challenged by the client, and altered. The point is to work with the client to reach a practical solution; and
- Be honest and forthright. “Tell me what I need to hear, not what you think I want to hear.” If what I say I want is, in in your judgment a bad idea, tell me … diplomatically, of course.
Violating the in-house “commandments”, may not condemn your immortal soul for eternity, but it can sure hurt your marketing efforts in obtaining more work from a client here on earth.
Next Time: the next five