My Goals for New Client Consultations
When I talk to a potential client for the first time, I use the four agreements to guide our first meeting. If you're not familiar with this concept, check out author Don Miguel Ruiz's Work for Yourself.
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don't take anything personally.
- Don't make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
In reverse order, I'll tell you how I use these agreements when meeting a potential client for the first time.
Always do your best.Because needing a lawyer is rarely a good thing, I try to understand why someone is reaching out to me. I always do my best to listen to a potential new client. It could be for many reasons, a car wreck, a wrongful death, an immigration issue, a bankruptcy inquiry, a divorce, a criminal issue, or a civil issue. I do my best to let the potential client speak their mind and explain why they are calling. Time is valuable, and time is a limited resource, but if I don't take the time to listen and do my best to understand why someone is calling, I can not properly evaluate your situation.
Don't make assumptions.Again, because I don't know what a potential client is calling for, I do not assume anything. It took courage for someone to call and reach out for help, and a lot of times, they are just calling because they do not know where to turn next. Every case is different, and the legal issue you or your loved ones are facing is unique to your situation. Although I have been practicing law for over 9 years, I will not assume I'll know how your case will end up in front of a judge or jury. I also ask all my clients not to assume anything out of me.
Don't take anything personally.This is something I struggle with. We all want results and to be good at our job. Sometimes the first consultation with a new potential client is my last one. I've had callers hang up on me, or tell me I don't know what I'm doing, that I charge too much, or I'm just another crooked lawyer. I'm not too fond of it, my ego doesn't like it, but it is what it is, and I have to move on. I also know just because your friend's lawyer and their situation turned out one way does not mean it will be the same for you. Because I do my best to listen, and I can't assume anything, a new potential client may be taking the frustration of their legal issues out on me.
Be impeccable with your word.I have turned down new cases even when someone is willing to shell out the money for my services. If I think I can help you, I will tell you, and if you decide to hire me, my attorney-client agreement will detail what services I will provide. I cannot 100% guarantee anything, and I am limited to what legal advice I can give to someone who is not yet signed a formal attorney-client agreement. Because the first consultation is free, I do my best to provide value during our first interaction, but there is only so much I can do in the short time we meet.
You can view Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements.
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