The lawyer’s ideal client

Lawyers are not required to accept any client that comes knocking on their door.

If you want to increase your chances of hiring your preferred lawyer, you may want to be in turn his ideal client.

Here are some suggestion that might make you his/her ideal client;

1. Someone who already knows what they want.

The primary objective of a lawyer is to help their clients accomplish their objectives through legal means. Thus, lawyers expect that clients know what they already want to do or happen and they simply need legal advice or assistance.

If the client does not know what they want, then it becomes a problem. Lawyers are not there to make important decisions for them, such as whether the client should file an annulment of marriage or step down as president of a company. These are matters that the client should decide on his/her own.

I once had a client who got defrauded by a contractor who botched up the renovations of the client’s house. It was a messy. The walls were cracking, water pipes leaked, and there was even a fire due to a faulty wiring. After going through her options from an admin case, civil case, to a criminal case, she looked at me and said: “You decide, Attorney.”

I replied that I was not going to decide for her as it is a very personal decision since she is the one who was aggrieved. To get any satsifaction, she must be clear what she wanted to ge out of it. Is this a matter of being paid back? Do you want accountability? Want to put someone in jail?

When she kept insisting that I decide, I told her it wasn’t going to work out with us and that she should find some other lawyer whose going to make the very personal decision for her. It sure wasn’t going to be me. Long-story, she eventually came around after thinking about things for some time. She decided to the answer to my earlier questions. Pursuing the case was more than just about money. She wanted those who defrauded her to be accountable. From there, we were able to prepare a solid case against the other side and we’ve had a good lawyer-client relationship that we built and cultivated.

2. Someone who values and invest on legal services.

There are only a few clients who value and invest on legal services. They often have first hand experience on the importance of keeping things legal and above aboard. Otherwise, it can be costly, not only in terms of money but also on peace of mind.

As for those who do not value legal services, they often see it as a cost in the short-run and fail to see the long-term consequences. Down the line, they get slapped with penalties plus they have to hire a lawyer fo fix the problem.

If you see legal services as a cost than an investment, you will likely treat legal services as a commodity. Is cheaper better when it comes to a lawyer? Ever heard of the expression: “hire the best lawyer that you money can buy.” There is no expression out there that says the reverse. That tells you a lot. You simply don’t compromise on legal. Especially if it can lead to jail time.

From a client who knew the value of legal services, he kept repeating this to me to explain why he was willing to pay: “I don’t want to be penny wise, but a pound foolish.”

3. Someone who cooperates.

The success of an engagement relies mainly on the client’s cooperation. Hence, a client and a lawyer can accomplish a lot if there is a free flow of information and documents. With these, the lawyer will be able to carefully assess the client’s situation to come up with a sound recommendation.

Conversely, the lawyer cannot do a lot of things if the client is not providing the key information and documents. As a professional, a lawyer will not engage in guesswork as it might prejudice the rights and interests of the client. Thus, in most cases, the lawyer terminates the engagement.

I once gave a lecture to a family business. In the question and answer, the head of the business appealed to his family members that they be open to me as I would not be able to give effective legal advice if they do not tell me what’s wrong. He described me as like being a doctor and thus for me to do my job, the patient (which was them as a family business) had to tell me what’s wrong. It was actually a pretty accurate description and I was pleased to know that he really understood the importance of cooperating with your lawyer.