I'm going to let you in on a law secret. There is a checklist I follow when I talk to my clients. It helps me to get questions answered efficiently, ask the right questions in return and prepare materials so that we can communicate our logical goals to one another. It's purposeful.
I find myself with one question that is reliably in my repertoire every time I speak to clients. I will always ask, "What do you want?"
What Do You Want?
Our practice upholds a purposeful approach to our work, achieving decisive and unambiguous results. Our assertive standing within our litigation expertise is the result of goal-oriented diligence. Our clients come to us seeking a purpose-driven method that achieves goal-oriented results. We will deliver satisfaction to our clients only when we meet their goals in a way that our clients understand and appreciate.
With that said, it's no wonder that goal-oriented communication and questioning is an essential part of my client intake. Our clients rely on us to be leaders. It is our job to both identify and solve their problems. We can't do that by being meek, and what is expected of us is to be assertive and authoritative in discussions. We need to challenge our clients to get to the bottom of what their goals are.
That's why I'll ask you "What do you want?" until you tell me a real answer. Engagements get messy when there are no clear objectives to work toward, in litigation, military or in marketing. It's simply impossible to deliver a good result when we haven't discussed what feels like success to our clients. That's why it makes the most sense to start there.
This is why we focus on the goals in all stages of representation. I think many professional service firms lose this when they scale the high degree of client-focus that got them to be successful in the first place to an expanded model that searches for new relationships. It's difficult to know someone well enough to get a measure of his or her goals, and it requires the personal touch.
This personal touch needs to translate through to agreements for our professional services. Does our client agreement reflect your goals? Do I state a course of representation that you want to pay for? Do you feel my Complaint asks for what you want to receive? This is legal quality control, and is essential to cultivating a dialog between attorney and client.
Win the Agreement
This isn't the usual type of post for my blog. Frankly, this post is about what a client can do for his or her attorney. This post is about being honest and clear of mind. It's a Zen thing, if anything else, to seek confrontation only with clear purpose. When I am your advocate, I am your general. I need to know the purpose of the confrontation to find the keys to victory.
As your general, I need to know the terms of a favorable peace as well. I need to know how I can broker an agreement that my client sees as a victory, and feels is an accomplishment. Our goals are your goals. We thrive off of the feedback, and when we recommend settling it is not a show of being beaten. It is a decision that is recommended because we can do what we have been asked to do.