There’s risk for me in writing this post – after all, I’m a business lawyer, and I’m telling all of the businesses (i.e., clients) out there what to expect from their lawyers in terms of commitment and how to hold them accountable. Of course, if that’s how I differentiate myself, my team and my firm from other lawyers, I’d better be willing to put it in writing.
I believe a lawyer must be “invested” in his or her clients and their businesses – not in the sense of writing a check in return for stock, but rather, making the commitment to contribute to the clients’ success. A few ways that I measure a lawyer’s commitment to clients is by asking whether the lawyer is, does or has:
• Fully understand(s) the client’s business and industry and the related challenges and opportunities?
• Takes the time to make sure he/she understands each business/legal transaction and the client’s requirements, goals and expectations?
• Visited the client’s facility or offices and spoken directly with upper level management?
• Proactively reached out to the client with business/legal updates?
• Proactively suggested legal, business, funding or other strategies and programs that the client might consider?
• Connected the client with other people or opportunities that might contribute to the client’s success?
• Designated a client service team or at least another attorney and a staff person who understand the client’s business and can respond when the primary attorney is unavailable?
• Worked with the client to make sure the legal services match the need/opportunity and the legal fees match the value provided?
• Meets timelines?
• Makes him/herself available on weekends, holidays and after hours when necessary?
• Delivers consistent high quality legal advice and work product that is appropriate for the particular deal or context?
• Accepts responsibility for mistakes or missed deadlines in the unfortunate event they occur?
• And most importantly . . . does the lawyer serve as a valuable and trusted advisor and confidante on both business and legal issues, and does he/she contribute to the business’s bottom line and protects its assets?
If you answered yes to each of the above questions, I would suggest that your lawyer is fully invested in your company – if not, you may want to look for another lawyer.